The 10th annual LOUD Scholarship Awards Gala honoured individuals for their contributions and achievements in the LGBT community across Canada.
Each of the 19 recipients was awarded a $2,000 cheque in recognition of their efforts and to support future education and career goals. The fun-filled night, which also touched on serious issues, was held on May 16 at CBC Vancouver’s Studio 700.
The LOUD Foundation is dedicated to creating opportunities for future leaders within the LGBT community. Every year, the association presents scholarships offering financial assistance to outstanding individuals.
Keneisha Charles, a high-school senior from Kelowna who wants to go into social work, won the Thompson/Holizki Scholarship. June Thompson, a local donor, who presented the award, stated how the recipient had submitted a clip of an official TED Talk in her application, which really made her stand out. “I didn’t know high-school students did that,” she added.
Addressing the audience, Charles said, “To be here tonight and to receive this award brings me so much validation and truly means a lot, especially the award coming from June [Thompson] and Terry [Holizki], because I don’t often see older role models and it's truly special to be here.”
The recipients were quite diverse in terms of race and sexual identity, and came from all across Canada. Their interests were also assorted, ranging from mental health, medicine, and sociology to animation, marketing, and teaching. There were common denominators, as well: all the young recipients shared the passion and dedication to invest in and keep LGBT issues at the forefront along with their education goals.
In the acceptance speeches, the individuals recognized the contributions and bravery of elder LGBT community members. The word validation was heard throughout the night, as the recipients said they felt a sense of camaraderie, recognition, and inspiration. They also shared their struggles, stories of coming out, and the work that they aspire to do.
The LOUD Foundation organized the award ceremony, and 18 other donor organizations contributed funds to scholarships. Blair Smith, a board member at LOUD, hopes to make this intimate annual gala a bigger affair next year, with more sponsors and members joining the cause.
Jim Deva, a prominent Vancouver LGBT activist, was remembered for his immense commitment and compassion towards the community. He passed away in 2014 and had a memorial fund established in his name a few years ago. “He is a big part of our life and a big part of this community,” said Smith. There were seven Jim Deva memorial scholarships presented at the gala.
Before the ceremony, Matt Troy, executive director of the artist-run society Vancouver Art and Leisure (VAL), took to Facebook to talk about the importance of mentorship and the gratification that comes from paying it forward.
Troy presented the Vancouver Art and Leisure Scholarship to Alexander McIntyre, a high-school student from South Slocan. The 17-year-old advocates for transgender-youth rights and pressed his school to incorporate gender-neutral washrooms. This fall, McIntyre is enrolling at Vancouver Film School to study animation concept art. Troy also highlighted the need for LGBT voices in the media.
The topic of mental health and well-being was touched upon, and some of the young individuals are already working towards the cause. Henry Wu, a UBC nursing student, was the successful candidate for the AIDS Vancouver/Kenneth Lackner Scholarship. He has worked and volunteered in the public-health field centred around LGBT mental health and substance use. He was also the research investigator at the Community-Based Research Centre for gay men’s health, where he helped organize the Gay Men’s Health Summit in 2017 and 2018.
Twenty-four-year-old Karl Chen expressed how growing up as queer, disabled, and a person of colour “can really take a toll on someone”. The recent BCIT marketing graduate was one of the recipients of the Pride Youth Scholarship. He was also the vice president for events at the BCIT Marketing Association and surprised everyone by turning the school’s annual fashion show into a drag show portraying the diversity of the queer community.
“For me personally, this award is a validation that the circumstances don’t define who I am. The circumstances may cause the oppression, may cause a lot of struggles in life, but I am what I make of myself,” Chen said after receiving his award.
Here is a complete list of the scholarship recipients:
Pride Youth Scholarship
Adriaan De Vries Scholarship
Phil Collins/Gallery Apartments Scholarship
Jim Deva Scholarships
Little Sisters Scholarship
Vancouver Art and Leisure Scholarship
Foundation of Hope Scholarship
AIDS Vancouver/Kenneth Lackner Scholarship