Vancouver People Project Volume 26 – Japreet Singh Lehal – Student, Writer, Social Justice Advocate

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Many times a day, the people you see crossing the street or meet in your travels make you smile and wonder, “What is their life like? What is their story?” A photographer is compelled to capture these individuals’ image to communicate their unique stories—to take a portrait that reflects their personality and the world they live in. For me (@tallulahphoto), this evolved into a passion to photograph these everyday people, whose unique souls reflect not only the zeitgeist but the joy and colour that comes from living on the West Coast.

Portraits from the Vancouver People Project will be featured in Vancouver Is Awesome as a precursor to a future photographic exhibit featuring the wonderful characters who contribute to the fabric of Vancouver.  Tallulah can be reached at tallulahphotography@gmail.com

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Japreet Singh Lehal – Student, Writer, Social Justice Advocate

Age: December 1993 (20)

Born: Surrey, British Columbia

How long have you lived in Vancouver? I have lived in Surrey my whole life.

Occupations: I began writing a newspaper column at the age of 17 and have written about a multitude of important topics affecting society. Currently I write a biweekly newspaper column in the Surrey Leader and a monthly column in the Peace Arch News. In my column I have advocated against the Quebec Soccer Federation’s discriminatory turban ban, the Quebec Values Charter and a restrictive voter ID law. I have also advocated for the release of detained journalists in Egypt and a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women. In addition to being a writer and student at Simon Fraser University, I started the company GoResearch, which is an online platform that connects researchers and students. It helps innovative research to be propelled forward and gives students the opportunity to delve into the exciting world of research. Currently I serve on the Board of Directors of Simon Fraser University’s Community Trust.

Passions and Interests: I am very passionate about social justice, law and helping society. I plan to enter law school after I receive an undergraduate degree in political science. In my leisure time I love to read, write, sing and play instruments such as the dholaki, tabla and tumbi.

What do people know you for? I think a lot of people know me for my newspaper writings, being the founder of GoResearch and my community involvement.

Thoughts on Vancouver? Vancouver is a city that means multiculturalism, diversity and acceptance.  As one who was born and raised in the Lower Mainland, I feel very fortunate to live where everyone is accepted for who they are and where the true multicultural spirit is represented. It is through this lens of diversity that we are able to see the beauty of the world. Hence, Vancouver is in a sense a microcosm of the planet. The variety of cultures and backgrounds represented by the community in the Lower Mainland is truly amazing. The beauty of this diversity also goes hand in hand with the idea and my personal philosophy that though we are diverse and different in our own unique and wonderful ways, we are all equal. Over the past decades, the Lower Mainland has been able to collectively develop a multicultural outlook. The result that has been achieved to date can certainly serve as a model for other cities around the world.

Tallulah’s Musings

I first came across Japreet Lehal while doing Internet research and was struck by how much he had already achieved. Japreet didn’t mention that after graduating from secondary school he was awarded just under $50,000 in scholarships and has already been the recipient of many awards, such as Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25.

The portrait was taken in the area of the Surrey Central Library and the newly constructed City Hall. This is the new visionary civic heart of Surrey — a place of community — the ideal backdrop for Japreet.