My Name Was January premieres in February

SFU sponsors screening and panel discussion as part of a lecture series on social justice

A documentary that pays tribute to January Lapuz is having its official Metro Vancouver premiere in February.

My Name Was January is screening on Thursday, Feb. 28 at SFU Surrey’s Westminster Savings Lecture Theatre (Room 2600 at 250-13450 102 Ave.).

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The short documentary remembers the life, death and legacy of Lapuz, who was 26 years old when she was brutally attacked in her New Westminster home on Sept. 29, 2012. Lapuz, a trans woman and sex worker, was stabbed 18 times in what was later revealed to be an altercation with a client over the price of a sexual encounter. She died several hours later in hospital.

The film looks at Lapuz’s life and also explores the challenges faced by trans women.

January Lapuz, Ash Brar, Alex Sangha
January Lapuz, centre, with friends Ash Brar, left, and Alex Sangha. - contributed

It’s directed by Elina Gress and Lenee Son and produced by SHER Vancouver, an organization that supports LGBTQ South Asians and their friends. SHER’s founder, Alex Sangha, and president, Ash Brar, were close friends of Lapuz, and the film arose from their efforts to ensure Lapuz’s story was remembered.

“When someone dies, she’s not just a statistic, a sex worker who’s killed,” Sangha said in a previous interview with the Record. “She had an impact on her friends, her family, her community. … No one has the right to kill you just because you’re in the sex trade.”

The screening will also include a panel discussion featuring Sangha, Gress, Son and Velvet Steele, who is featured in the film. The panel will be facilitated by Jennifer Marchbank, a professor in the gender, sexuality and women’s studies department at Simon Fraser University.

The event is being sponsored by the SFU department of gender, sexuality and women’s studies as part of its Margaret Lowe Benston Lecture Series in Social Justice.

Lara Campbell, professor and department chair, said in a press release that the department is honoured to support and honour the lives of trans women.

“The movie embodies the deepest principles of social justice,” she said in the release.

The screening is free, with a reception to follow, and the theatre has a capacity of 200 people. Tickets are free to the public through www.eventbrite.ca (you can find a direct link at www.tinyurl.com/MyNameWasJanuaryScreening2019).

You can find out more about the movie at www.januarylapuz.net.

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