Alex Sangha is a social worker, counselor, documentary film producer, and the Founder of Sher Vancouver, a registered charity for LGBTQ+ South Asians and their friends, families, and allies. Everyone is welcome. Alex received the Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada for founding Sher Vancouver.


Can you tell us how you got to where you are today?

I completed an Associate in Arts at Douglas College, a Bachelor of Social Work from UBC with a First Class Standing, a Master of Social Work from Dalhousie University, and an MSc in Public Administration and Public Policy from the London School of Economics where I studied on a partial entrance scholarship. I am a Registered Clinical Social Worker and Registered Clinical Counselor with a private counseling practice in North Delta. I completed the Business for Producers course at the National Screen Institute (NSI) and completed a mentorship with established Canadian producer Avi Federgreen. I had to work hard and take many jobs to support myself through school. I was raised by a wonderful, beautiful single mother of three boys who instilled the value of hard work in me.

Whether counseling, filmmaking, or charity work, everything I do is a form of social work. I have experience working in various sectors as a youth counselor, social worker, clinician, team leader, and instructor. My passion for social advocacy, activism, and justice fulfills my inner desire to make a difference and support others. I am truly dedicated to helping and changing lives to the best of my ability.


What led you to the work you do?

The tragic murder of Sher Vancouver‘s social coordinator, January Marie Lapuz, in September 2012 inspired me to take action. I was dissatisfied with how the media portrayed her death, blaming her for being engaged in survival sex work. To honor January, a transgender Filipina woman, I produced my first short film, MY NAME WAS JANUARY. The film, directed and edited by two KPU Journalism students, Elina Gress and Lenee Son, garnered international recognition with 16 awards and official selection at 65 film festivals worldwide. It was broadcast on OUTtv in Canada and qualified for the Canadian Screen Awards. This experience revealed the power of documentary filmmaking to bring about social change and raise awareness, particularly regarding the rights of transgender women of color.



This led to the creation of my debut feature documentary, EMERGENCE: OUT OF THE SHADOWS. The film explores the coming out journey of gay and lesbian Punjabi Sikh individuals in Metro Vancouver and their parents’ reactions. Directed by local Surrey filmmaker Vinay Giridhar, the film was selected for nearly 50 established film festivals globally, including Academy Award, BAFTA, and five Canadian Screen Award qualifying festivals. It won Best Documentary at the Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival and was broadcast on Knowledge Network, TVO, and OUTtv. EMERGENCE: OUT OF THE SHADOWS has over 75,000 views on YouTube and is free to watch.


How do you approach your work?

My goal is to amplify the voices of underrepresented and marginalized communities, including South Asian, LGBTQ+, and transgender individuals . The success of MY NAME WAS JANUARY and EMERGENCE: OUT OF THE SHADOWS encouraged Sher Vancouver‘s Board of Directors to green light our third documentary, I, MIGRANT which focuses on newcomers and international students from India to Metro Vancouver.




Additionally, Sher Vancouver is launching the Sundar Prize Film Festival, a red-carpet event taking place on June 15-16, 2024, at Surrey City Hall. The festival will present over $10,000 CAD in cash prizes. The Sundar Prize recognizes beautiful films that use impactful and informative storytelling to address social causes and issues.

The KDocsFF Emerging Filmmaker Residency Prize will also be presented at the Sundar Prize Film Festival, with KDocsFF serving as a festival partner. KDocsFF is collaborating with Sher Vancouver to offer a filmmaker’s residency program at the KDocsFF Social Justice Lab on the Kwantlen Polytechnic University – Surrey campus. This four-month residency provides an emerging local filmmaker with a dedicated workspace equipped with editing equipment and access to the University’s film studies faculty and students for test audiences, consultation, and expertise. The winner of the residency will also receive a $1000 CAD cash prize. Submit Your Film to the Sundar Prize Film Festival and KDocsFF Emerging Filmmaker Residency Prize.

Sher Vancouver is also sponsoring the Sher Vancouver Award for Best LGBTQ+ Film at the Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival, which carries a $2000 CAD cash prize.

Our goal through our various film prizes and festival screenings is to bring exceptional and impactful films to the heart of Surrey, which is soon to become the largest city in the province.


June is LGBTQIA+ Pride month, and your film EMERGENCE: OUT OF THE SHADOWS follows three young individuals as they navigate their sexuality within conservative South Asian families. How did you come to make this film, and what is its current status?

The inspiration for EMERGENCE: OUT OF THE SHADOWS came from Kayden, a young man from Punjab, India, who was disowned by his entire family when they found out he was gay. Trapped in Vancouver without food, shelter, or money to pay his tuition fees, Kayden’s immigration status was uncertain. The documentary sheds light on Kayden’s journey and whether he manages to overcome his challenges and find his path in life. Through this film, we aimed to create awareness and educate the community, striving to prevent other gay youth from experiencing a similar fate as Kayden for something beyond their control.

EMERGENCE: OUT OF THE SHADOWS has been screened over 50 times in schools and received approval to be included in Grade 10 to 12 classrooms throughout the Surrey School District. We are also working on getting the film into the Delta School District, Vancouver School Board, and French schools across British Columbia. Additionally, we have developed a Teacher’s Discussion Guide for the documentary, created by Surrey teachers Annie Ohana and Sharon Sehrai.

One of the highlights of our film festival circuit is being selected as a Finalist at the Women Deliver Conference in Kigali, Rwanda, where it will be screened to approximately 6000 in-person delegates and 200,000 online delegates from July 17 to 20, 2023.




What’s next for you?

Vinay Giridhar, the director of EMERGENCE: OUT OF THE SHADOWS and I have established our own film production company called Goodness Pictures Ltd.

Our mission is to create films with heart and impact, focusing on meaningful storytelling.