Skip to content

Vancouver Organization using film to educate, develop safe spaces, and save lives

Sher Vancouver offers a wide area of service and programming for queer South Asians and their friends, families, and allies in Metro Vancouver. In 2021, its sister organization Sher Films, released “Emergence: Out of the Shadows,” which has received massive acclaim, playing at over 45 film festivals.

The film goes even further than bringing the stories of queer individuals to the forefront, and its success showcases the possibility of what self-produced, independently filmed projects can be. 

“I think we did pretty well for Emergence, and it’s making it way easier to get funding this time around,” says Alex Sangha, Founder of Sher Vancouver and Producer of the film. “One unique thing about Sher Vancouver is we’re pioneering non-profit and charitable film production in this country.”

This was the second project of Sher Films, the first its short film “My Name is January.” “Emergence: Out of the Shadows,” filmed and produced in Canada, shows the coming out story of three South Asian adults and their parents’ reactions. The idea was to showcase what happens to many LGBTQ+ people in India when they come out, are disowned by their own families, and live alone. A reality for one of the film’s interviews subjects. 

Telling stories about the lives of 2SLGBTQI+ individuals and creating safe spaces and communities for them is becoming more critical than ever. Media outlets and online discussions are becoming increasingly hostile to the queer community calling them “unnatural” or “groomers.” This animosity towards queer individuals and culture has encouraged some to resort to extremes, with a gunman killing five and injuring 25 others at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs. Incidents like this may become more common with anti-LGBTQ legislation in the United States, including Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill or continued Republican efforts to restrict gender-affirming care for youth. Although this is happening in the US, Canadians need to remain vigilant in the protection of the rights of minority communities. 

“Sometimes I’m worried about our society. If some right-wing person gets elected, how are minorities going to be treated? Not only am I a minority for being gay, but I’m also a minority for being brown. I also live with bipolar, which puts me at risk of living with a disability,” says Sangha. “What’s going to happen to my healthcare? What’s going to happen to my health services? What will happen to me if they start stripping gay people of their rights?”

On August 28, 2022, Canada’s first Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan was launched and will;

  • Prioritize and sustain 2SLGBTQI+ community action by supporting 2SLGBTQI+ community organizations in advocating for and serving the communities they represent;
  • Continue to advance and strengthen 2SLGBTQI+ rights at home and abroad, including by building on the criminalization of conversion therapy and launching consultations on additional criminal law reforms, as well as continuing to invest in projects abroad through Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy;
  • Support Indigenous 2SLGBTQI+ resilience and resurgence, including by continuing to fund Indigenous 2SLGBTQI+ community organizations, placing the “2S” to represent Two-Spirit people at the front of the 2SLGBTQI+ acronym, and creating a dedicated Two-Spirit Senior Advisor position within the 2SLGBTQI+ Secretariat;
  • Engage everyone in Canada in fostering a more inclusive future by investing in awareness campaigns to improve understanding of 2SLGBTQI+ communities and issues;
  • Strengthen 2SLGBTQI+ data and evidence-based policymaking by improving data collection, analysis, research, and knowledge on 2SLGBTQI+ communities and the barriers they face in Canada; and
  • Embed 2SLGBTQI+ issues in the work of the Government of Canada by ensuring coordinated action to advance 2SLGBTQI+ priorities across federal government organizations.
  • Budget 2022 committed $100 million over five years to develop and implement the Action Plan to benefit 2SLGBTQI+ people.

Budget 2022 committed $100 million over five years to develop and implement the Action Plan to benefit 2SLGBTQI+ people.

This is a great step in ensuring the rights of and building equality for 2SLGBTQI+ people. Still, work needs to be constant, and organizations such as Sher Vancouver continue to push for the betterment of these communities. Included in their production of social justice and education films, the organizations strive to reduce the alienation and discrimination of people dealing with sexuality, gender and coming-out issues by providing:

There’s even more good news for the organization. According to Sangha, they’ve introduced a podcast interviewing queer activists and artists, and the organization will be expanding. 

“It wouldn’t surprise me if we tripled our budget and tripled the number of people working for us. The core operating team, and volunteers, have tripled in the past three years, and in the next five years, we will triple.”

Another exciting development for Sher Vancouver is the number of BIPOC individuals interested in the organization. Many don’t have safe spaces for themselves. Although Sher Vancouver first started for south Asians and their friends and families, Sangha says they will be moving towards providing services for the entire multicultural spectrum. With another film project in the works and continued engagement with the community, there’s hope for the future of Metro Vancouver and something to aspire for all of Canada. 

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U Multicultural

Building a Winning Mindset Dr. Shade, the founder of the Leadership Synergy Institute, is a beacon of empowerment and inspiration for many. With a passion for helping individuals unlock their full potential, Dr. Shade’s journey began with a simple yet profound desire to uplift others.  In her own words, she expresses, “There isContinue Reading

Read More »

Share this post with your friends

Subscribe to Our Newsletter