A Vancouver support group for the transgender community is mourning the loss of one of its members after she was stabbed to death last weekend.
The victim has been identified as January Marie Lapuz, according to CTV News.
Lapuz volunteered as a social coordinator, fundraiser and performer with Sher Vancouver, a group for LGBT South Asians in the city.
The 26-year-old was stabbed last Saturday night and died the following morning in hospital.
Alex Sangha, founder of Sher Vancouver, said Lapuz had a positive effect on almost everyone she met: “She would volunteer as a host at our social events, help us out with fundraising and she’d even perform… She did a great Beyonce and she was a great singer and dancer”.
Sangha added: “She was the life of the party. She made everybody laugh. We already miss her a lot.”
Police say witnesses reported seeing a man running from the murder scene on the 500 block of 3rd Avenue in New Westminster at around 10pm.
Investigators are asking for the public’s assistance in locating him.
He is described as an Asian male in his mid-20s, approximately five foot five inches, with short black hair, a muscular build and wearing a black muscle shirt and grey shorts.
Sangha said Lapuz, who became social coordinator of Sher Vancouver in 2009, faced a lot of challenges as a transgender woman.
“She had a lot of inner turmoil as a woman who was transgender and living in poverty with limited social support as an immigrant,” Sangha said. “We’re already very at risk in the community, a lot of people stigmatise [transgender people] and I just think it’s horrible – it’s a huge loss.”