Jeremy Dias, faced severe bullying and discrimination on a daily basis because of his ethnicity and sexual orientation in Highschool. Despite efforts to make changes in his school, he was stopped by school administrators. As a result of his experiences, he challenged his school and school board at the Ontario Human Rights Commission and, after three years, was awarded Canada’s second-largest human rights settlement ($5000) at the age of twenty-one.
Feeling strong that the funds should go to making a difference in his community, he and a few friends founded the Jeremy Dias Scholarship, which, in 2005, then became Jer’s Vision: Canada’s Youth Diversity Initiative. This was prompted by calls from youth that needed support beyond a scholarship.
After ten years, the organization rebranded itself as the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD) to better focus on a national level of diverse communities who over the years, asked for collective, national, or regional empowerment and education for their local leadership. This shift brought about a clear mandate and vision for the transformed organization so that it can better educate, advocate and empower communities sustainably. This was further cemented with the new appointment of Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah as the new Executive Director in July 2020.