Public Letter on OUTtawa: A Safety Labs Project

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CCGSD Announces Partnership on Kind Spaces’ OUTtawa: A Safety Labs Project

November 26, 2021 – (Ottawa, Ontario) 

Dear friends,

The Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD) is happy to announce our partnership with KindSpace, alongside Planned Parenthood Ottawa and MAX Ottawa, in their OUTtawa: A SafetyLabs Project.

SafetyLabs, originating in San Francisco by Community United Against Violence (CUAV), are a space for 2SLGBTQ+ and racialized communities to practice core skills needed for grounded, accountable, and liberating community-based responses to harm. OUTtawa focuses on preventing and intervening in ways that do not rely on isolation, shame, retaliation, or incarceration. It hopes to highlight the importance of intent vs. impact, accountability and survivor informed/centred holistic community wellness. This project intends to cultivate a space that addresses harm, explores areas for improvement, and addresses shame in a constructive non-abusive manner.

CCGSD was invited to take part in this process led by KindSpace as we have begun the hard and important process to address the history of harm experienced by those within and outside of the organization. Accountability and moving towards transformational justice are long-term processes. They require intent, sincerity, and support. Earlier this year, CCGSD staff, with the support of the Board of Directors, committed ourselves to a theme of REST, REFLECT, REBUILD. The rest aspect of this theme involved a critical look at the way we do our work. We moved towards centring passion and impact as opposed to over-productivity. This would only make the second part of the theme, reflect, possible. The reflection process was, and still is, one of difficult conversations. Being “comfortable with being uncomfortable” to make the necessary steps towards being the organization CCGSD should be for 2SLGBTQ+ communities. Rebuilding the organization to create a feminist future cannot happen without acknowledging past harm and creating accountable next steps informed by those impacted by the organization’s actions. 

Through the SafetyLabs project, an environmental scan of our organization’s current capacity to deal with harm takes place. The next phase will include experiential labs for internal testing with organizational staff, volunteers, and board members. Interviews with former staff members who choose to participate will also occur. Finally, documentation, reporting, and resources will be developed to help best inform our organizational capacity going forward. We will be incorporating this process alongside the implementation of recommendations from our anti-racism and anti-oppression training that took place in the Fall of 2020.

Acknowledging past harms is an integral and important step towards transformative justice. We know there are further conversations, apologies, and actions that need to continue to take place. OUTtawa: A SafetyLabs project is a community-centred process for us to take those internal and external dialogues over the past year and a half and put them into tangible and measurable action. 

We are committed to this and want to work alongside you in this process with one of our most important guiding principles at the forefront: empathy and compassion.

In solidarity,

The Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity

Have questions? Contact:

Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah, Executive Director

Reilly Vamplew, Interim Board President  



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