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INDIRA Prahst will receive the Renate Shearer Award on December 11 foroutstanding contribution to human rights.

Executive Director of the BC Human Rights Coalition, Susan O’Donnell, said the Coalition was impressed by the way Prahst continues to bridge academe with community, as well as her work with South Asian women and South Asian young people. She added: “The issues of domestic violence and helping young people stay out gangs are grass roots issues which are really important to our Coalition.”

Prahst, who is a regular contributor to Asian Journal, is Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and a full-time instructor at Langara College.

This award is a memorial to the life and work of Renate Shearer who was a champion of equality and dignity for all.

The BC Human Rights Coalition and the United Nations Association alternate presenting the award: one year the Coalition presents the award to someone who has contributed to domestic human rights; the alternate year, the United Nations Association presents the award to someone whose contribution is to international human rights.

The Award consists of a bronze bust by artist Yoli Garcia called Porque that the recipient keeps for a year as well as a plaque.

Prahst’s current research interests centre on the structures of state power and racism, human rights violations and violence with impunity and its impacts on identity and subjectivity. Prahst has been involved in ethnographic work, through critical race theory and a post-colonialist lens, on human rights violations of women, racialized and religious communities, media representations of minorities and silenced discourses of Sikhs in Canada. She has a book in progress on minority and majority relations in Canada.

Her local current area of concentration within the community is in interethnic relations within the Canadian context of family issues, such as violence and intercultural and inter-generational challenges, as well as anti-gang-violence preventative educational strategies for youth in BC. Her academic focus has been on the South Asian community where she has been active at the grassroots level in combating violence against women and challenging cultural arguments that stigmatize the community.

Prahst is in the fourth year of heading the research project on gangs and alienation with the Acting Together Community University Research Alliance (SSHRC-CURA) which aims to empower youth to resist being recruited into gangs. She has worked to combat violence and ideologies of Neo-Nazi movements in Canada and Germany as part of anti-racism initiatives in Canada.

Prahst has organized several forums and events for women’s empowerment against violence against women. She has won several awards for bridging academe with community, including the Langara College Leadership of Excellence Award in 2009. Prahst continues to engage with her regular columns in the Asian Journal on themes that pertain to human rights and empowerment.

Prahst continues to advocate for the rights of individuals in diverse ways. She has presented over 30 academic papers at conferences in the last five years and recently spoke at a human rally for Sikhs in front of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.