Sher Vancouver is a registered charity for LGBTQ+ South Asians and their friends, families, and allies. They work to create safe spaces for vulnerable and marginalized LGBTQ+ people. We had a great talk with Alex Sangha, Founder of Sher Vancouver, to learn more about what they do.
Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.
Sher Vancouver is a registered charity for LGBTQ+ South Asians and their friends, families, and allies. Everyone is welcome! Sher Vancouver is a unique dual-purpose arts and cultural and social service organization.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Sher Vancouver aims to reduce the alienation, isolation, loneliness, depression, and suicidal ideation of LGBTQ+ people who are dealing with sexuality, gender, and coming out issues. Sher Vancouver works to create safe spaces for vulnerable and marginalized LGBTQ+ people. We want to save lives and provide opportunities for LGBTQ+ people to have the support and assistance they need to grow, flourish, and reach their potential.
When did you start/join it?
Sher Vancouver was originally founded as an online social welfare group in 2008. It became a non-profit society in 2017, and a registered charity in 2021.
What made you want to get involved?
There were a number of high-profile suicides in the community. I wanted to create safe spaces and awareness and educate the community on homophobia and transphobia issues so that no other youth have to suffer because of who they are and for something that they have no control over in terms of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
What was the situation like when you started?
Sher Vancouver was originally founded as a queer Sikh group. The leader of the local Sikh Temple said there was no such thing as “gay Sikhs.” I received a lot of hate mail on MSN from around the world. Some people even threatened my life. I had the support of my mother, and I believed in what I was doing so I continued in my journey to help other queer people in my community to the best of my ability.
How has it changed since?
Sher Vancouver was invited to march in the Vancouver Vaisakhi Parade by the Outreach Coordinator of a prominent Sikh Temple in Vancouver. Sher Vancouver has also expanded its mandate to include all queer South Asians and their friends, families, and allies in Metro Vancouver.
What more needs to be done?
There needs to be more funding from all levels of government so that registered charities like Sher Vancouver can provide a range of core support services like counselling, peer support groups, and outreach presentations to combat bullying, racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. We need stable funding so that we can continue to support a vulnerable and marginalized segment of the population.
How can our readers help?
You can make a tax-deductible donation to the Sher Vancouver LGBTQ Friends Society on Canada Helps here.
Do you have any events coming up?
Sher Vancouver is celebrating its 15th anniversary called Desi-Q on Saturday, July 8, 2023, in Surrey at Bollywood Banquet Hall in the Payal Business Centre. Tickets will go on sale May 1, 2023, on Eventbrite with sliding scale price points of $20, $40, and $60. The event will be a cultural gala that you don’t want to miss!
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society