There would have been plenty of singing and dancing involved when January Marie Lapuz celebrated her 36th birthday this month.
Instead, there’s a new memorial website set up by a group of friends to pay tribute to the friend they lost nearly 10 years ago.
Lapuz was killed in her New Westminster home in September 2012.
Sher Vancouver, a registered charity for LGBTQ+ South Asians and their friends and families, has set up a new website in her honour to mark her birthday.
Lapuz was born on April 9, 1986, in Santiago City, Philippines, and died on Sept. 30, 2012 in New Westminster.
She was the social coordinator for Sher Vancouver, the first transgender person to hold an executive position within the organization. In that role, she welcomed new members, connected them to information and support services, and helped organize and plan social activities and events.
Lapuz was also a singer and a dancer who performed at Sher events.
“She was a kind, caring, generous, and loyal friend who helped other transgender women with their gender transition,” said Ash Brar, January’s best friend and president of Sher Vancouver, in a press release.
Alex Sangha, founder of Sher Vancouver, was also a close friend of Lapuz.
“January had many challenges and struggles as an immigrant, as a person of colour, and as a transgender woman living in poverty,” Sangha said in the release. “Nonetheless, she was a bright light and shining star. She had a special ability to get people to put their differences aside and move forward in the best interests of each other and the organization. Not a day goes by that January’s friends don’t miss her.”
Documentary, youth award remember January Marie Lapuz
Sher Vancouver’s award-winning short documentary, My Name Was January, has been uploaded to the website for everyone to view. The 26-minute film serves as a tribute and eulogy to January and also gives voice to the strengths and struggles of other transgender women of colour.
The film won 15 international awards and was an official selection at 66 film festivals in 11 countries around the world.
Also on the memorial website, you can find information about the January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award, an annual award given to a 16-to-30-year-old who shows commitment, involvement and leadership in the 2SLGBTQ+ community.