“Thank you,” she said with a smile and twinkle in her eye.
“Thank you for what?” I asked, curious.
“Do you know what you’ve done today? You and Jer’s Vision organized Cape Breton’s first LGBTQ youth conference. This is a big deal for our community. It isn’t easy growing up here. For the first time ever, we learned about our LGBTQ community, how we can get help, and what we can do to make our communities safer. You’re a hero!”
Her words caught me off guard. Every single day, the team at Jer’s Vision runs workshops, conferences, and engagement programming with communities. We work hard to address bullying, discrimination, homophobia, and transphobia all over Canada. Frequently we are the first to start work in a community.
In fact, March was a month of many firsts, such as:
I guess it’s because there’s a general sense in Canada that ‘things are getting better’ but her words reminded me that that’s not true for everyone. On a daily basis, I see schools and communities that are not ‘better’. I meet kids who are marvels of resilience that have learned to deal with situations no child ever should. I get calls and emails from students and teachers who are asking JersVision.org for help in doing groundbreaking long term change. And that takes more than one workshop or presentation to transform our schools and communities from homophobic and transphobic cultures to ones of inclusivity and liberation. Long term change requires ongoing relationship building, training, and engagement.
In Cape Breton, we are already supporting students in new projects, and planning follow up programming for schools, a second conference, and community workshops for parents and youth service providers.
On Wednesday, April 10, 8.5 million people will wear pink and organize events to make their community safer. From everyone here, we thank you for your hard work and wish you the best with your Day of Pink!
If you are in the Ottawa valley, we hope to see you at the free JersVision.org & Day of Pink Gala at 6pm at the Government Conference Centre (2 Rideau St) on April 10; the event will feature the Rt. Hon. Michaelle Jean, Mark Tewksbury and many more. (Don’t forget to RSVP by emailing: RSVP@JersVision.org). More information here.
We are joining dozens of LGBTQ-A* organizations from across Canada to organize Dare to Stand Out: Canada’s FIRST National LGBTQ-A* Service Providers’ Summit (Toronto, June 26 & 27). Join your peers for networking, amazing professional development & visioning the future of our community. And is FREE! Find out more, register and get invovled here.
YouTube The Musical is raising money to support JersVision.org’s work in schools. Come out to this amazing show on April 6 & 7 at the University of Ottawa (Alumni Auditorium). Tickets are selling fast so get yours now. More info here.And on Facebook.