The Last 6 months at UR Pride
as told by the Executive Director:
WOW it's been a crazy 6 months!
Positive Space Network
Positive Space Network launched in October. Since then we have created 6 workshops, full of useful information, for all faculty, staff, students and community at large to come and learn about different topics related to providing positive spaces and just recently launched an online test for those who can’t make it to the Intro workshop. Since the start of it, we have had around 80 people sign up as part of the positive space network and have had many groups on and off campus contact us about the program. I would say this has been a huge success which is exciting because this program has tried to start under a couple different organizations on campus in the past so we need to recognize that we need to continue to support the program so that it will grow.
The Peer support program has started this year with some steady workshops being held by the head of counselling services, Brian Sveinson. Shannon put some hard work forward on this program and has recently switched hands to Meghan who has already wrote a program outline to bring a backbone to what we are trying to do.
The library is slowly growing with some pretty awesome books. Maybe I’m biased because my favorite topic of book or movie is queer and my favorite genre is non-fiction and, therefore, most of them fit under my definition of awesome, but either way, if you are interested in checking out the new additions, stop by the office!
Gender Neutral Washrooms
In November, we started a conversation with facilities management about gender neutral washrooms. We are still in negotiations about what this might mean for the university but in the in term they have promised to change all single stall washrooms to unisex. We are at a point in our discussions where they want to provide more than this but by law cannot without making new washroom facilities, which they are not opposed to, but will have to find the money before they move forward. After CUQSC, I will be working with them to construct policy and a sustainable yearly plan for renovations. We will see where that takes us.
Youth Leadership Program
Youth Group has been going better than I had imagined it when I wrote the program. Since the beginning of the school year each week has seen roughly 10-15 participants per youth group night. We have held a bunch of different monthly events all across Regina with a healthy ammount of people coming out tho those. And we have gained in sponsorship. Last year we were very lucky and honoured to receive a grant from CIF for $24,000 and RPIRG for $500 a semester, this year CIF and RPIRG both renewed our grants, CIF decided they would give us a $1000 more, and SaskTel has given us a modest $500 to show their support! It is my hope that by next year we will be able to see the budget rise enough to keep the Project Coordinator position on as full time, and hopefully find some stable grants for such an important project.
We have had a plethora of sweet events such as International Coming Out Day where we printed t-shirts and encouraged folks to come out by putting the sexual or gender identity on the T-shirt, we had a couple potlucks, a Halloween movie night, wear red campaign on World Aids Day, a steak night fundraiser, a Cabaret at Crave and of course our annual Fundraiser Divas at the Owl, we had a total participant reached of 655, and this isn’t including the monthly youth night events that Karli will be updating on.
In the past we have presented workshops in WGST 100 and Social work classes, this year we have been lucky enough to see our audience grow. We were asked to come to not only these classes but also education classes, religious studies, kinesiology, nursing, francophone classes, and I’m sure I’m missing more. Outside the University Classrooms we have been asked to present at Student Affairs’ managers and Human Resources staff, at high schools, the Unitarian and United church, various community groups including Rainbow Youth Centre to both their staff and youth programming, RPIRG’s Apathy into Action, One Song Transgender Day of Remembrance and many more.
We have also gained some strong partnerships with the Aboriginal Student Centre, Creative City Centre, Rainbow Youth Centre, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, SaskPower, STOPS to Violence, the UofR Social Work Department, Counselling Services and continuing partnerships with the women’s centre, RPIRG, RWRC, GLCR, ACC, APSS, RSAR, CIF, CFS, URSU and the UofR. All of what we have done would not have been possible without any of these organizations.
Social Work Practicum
This year the Social Work Department was silly enough to think I was a responsible human being, capable of teaching someone else how to do the work we do around here, so UR Pride received a Social Work Practicum Student. This was an amazing opportunity for both me and the center to have an extra semi staff person around. And I guess I fooled them again because it sounds like it’s going to be a regular occurrence.
Even though last year was an amazing year for our budget, starting at $45,000 and expanding to $77,000, this year, now, with 5 months still to go for our fiscal year, we are at the 110,000 mark! This is a monumental, ground breaking number in UR Pride’s history. This is somewhat do to the CUQSC sponsorships we have procured but does not make up for all of it. I am very excited and happy to see this growth. Congratulations UR Pride.
The Student Referendum happened. And we won. By 86%. I have also been told by some national bodies that they believe we are the first queer organization to have a student levy pass without passing it with other things on the question: IE) I vote to pass a student levy for the women’s centre, WUSC and UR Pride. Because of this we have been getting national attention and I think we should take a second to recognize the hard work the board and volunteers put into making this such a success.
Canadian Blood Services
I was asked to represent Southern Saskatchewan at a consultation at Canadian Blood Services this month. We met at Ottawa to discuss the MSM policy and the CBS board choice to change the policy from ay man who has sex with another man since 1977 is banned for life to banned for no more than 10 years no less than 5. It was actually quite reliving to get to know the stance of some national voices. To sum up what I learnt in a sentence was most people want to change to policy to assessment of risky behaviour for all, CFS has considered this and don’t know how to do it but is willing to work towards it, and the only reason they picked 10-5 years is because their patient groups, that is the people that receive blood, are afraid of change because it has unforeseen consequences, even though the science all points that 10, 5, and 1years have the same amount of risk, which is little to no risk. If you want to learn more about this please come and see me after.
For those of you who had your heads in the ground, or in books, or work, or Minecraft, Margaret Somerville, an international ethicist who prophesizes that gay marriage, gay parent adoption, and the women’s right to choose is unethical and therefore as a society we are failing because we are allowing it to happen, was asked (and paid a nice chuck of speaker fees) to come to speak at an honourable Annual Woodrow Lloyd Lecture put on by the Faculty of Arts. In response, RPIRG, The Women’s Centre, and UR Pride banded together to put on a counter lecture and peaceful protest during the lecture. We also got 50 signed letters from faculty, staff, students and community at large disgusted and disappointed with the Faculty of Arts, so we sent those letters, with a letter from RPIRG and UR Pride demanding a public apology.
CUQSC is happening! SOON! And because I’ve talked for far too long already, Caitlyn, the CUQSC co-ordinator is going to say a couple things about it after Karli.
Thanks for reading and thank you all for the help you have provided throughout the last 6 months as all of this would not have happened without your contributions, even if your contribution was saying hi to the folks sitting at a hallway table or buying a ticket to Divas.
A Message from the CUQSC coordinator
The UR Pride Centre is hosting the 7th
annual Canadian University Queer Services Conference
(CUQSC) from May 2nd
, 2012 at the University of Regina. CUQSC is a national five-day conference with university LGBTQ* service providers where we spread awareness of LGBTQ issues, hold discussions surrounding national and regional issues and expand the knowledge of LGBTQ life across Canada. We expect approximately 200 to 250 participants to attend this conference. This Conference will be an amazing opportunity for LGBTQ and Allied scholars to share their wealth of knowledge on LGBTQ issues with students from across Canada, showing them that, while the Prairies may seem less progressive than Vancouver or Montréal, our unique identity is formed by community partnerships, allied support, and individuals that dedicate themselves to the LGBTQ community.
Perhaps it was foolish to take on the task of a large conference that has previously been held in Montreal, Victoria, Guelph and Winnipeg. But with such a strong performance by our Executive Director, I knew we could pull together the resources to achieve a successful conference. While people weren’t thrilled to come to Regina, we are well on our way to the best CUQSC yet, and we will show them that small doesn’t mean weak. Our theme, Getting Down to Business, implies we are ready to think about queer businesses, organizations and policies. (I know how you all love policies) But with a tongue in cheek reference to getting down to business,
we encourage some fun as well, facilitated by nightly events.
Our Keynote speaker, Gary Kinsman has agreed to tailor his speech specifically for our delegates, and with the title “Getting Down With Queer Activist History: Past, Present and Future.” You know it is going to be good. We became interested in Gary Kinsman because of his status as a prominent LGBTQ activist in Canada. Looking at Canada’s mistakes in the past, Kinsman emphasizes that informed behaviour today would provide a strong path towards our future. Focusing on national and regional issues of LGBTQ life, Kinsman’s research focuses on unifying the community and moving forward to achieve a future that allows more opportunities for success and support for the LGBTQ community. Kinsman will inspire the delegates from the national and local community to work together towards a better future.
Gary Kinsman is a longtime queer liberation, AIDS, anti-capitalist and anti-oppression activist and organizer. He is the author of The Regulation of Desire: Homo and Hetero Sexualities, co-author of The Canadian War on Queers: National Security as Sexual Regulation, and editor of Whose National Security? and Sociology for Changing the World as well as many articles and book chapters on gender and sexual politics. He teaches sociology at Laurentian University in Sudbury, on the historic territories of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek nation.
We will also have Adrian Stimson is a two-spirited performance artist and activist from Saskatchewan who is coming for a morning talk, along with a panel from URQI (University of Regina Queer Initiative) and hopefully, a discussion with the RCMP about the current climate between queers and national authority.
Most recently we have added Ian Harvie to the lineup, leading the entertainment during our open mic drag show evening. Ian is a transgender comedian from San Francisco, who is likely to rile the masses, providing controversy for the queerest and the most heteronormative alike. He will be the main act among open-mic acts, drag performances, and a screening from Queer City Cinema here in town. This is on top of presentations from local marriage commissioners, queer and trans entrepreneurs, successful non-profits, and more from visiting presenters across Canada. Finally, there will be caucuses to concentrate discussions into issues pertaining to everyone, discussing issues of gender, sexuality, place and intersectionalities of queer identity.
We still need a lot of work in gathering volunteers, producing documents, and spreading the word about the conference. We still need presenters and facilitators and volunteers. I look forward to making this happen with you, CUQSC could not happen without your contribution, so let's prove that Saskatchewan can be progressive and productive.
Now is the time to register, and you can on www.cuqsc.org
or find the link to it on UR Pride’s page.