Informed, Inclusive, Indivisible: Collectively Advancing 2SLGBTQ+ Equality in Niagara+

Between January and March 2022, OUTniagara will be hosting the OUT IN Niagara Education Seriesa range of capacity-building workshops, panels, campaigns, & more, all in partnership with community organizations, activists, & agencies!
The OUT IN Niagara Education Series is part of the ongoing Niagara Skills Network (NSN) Community Toolbox Series. The NSN is a region-wide project hosted by OPIRG Brock, and works with a core team of organizers across activist groups, arts organizations, labour unions, and social & cultural services across the Niagara region to break down the silos between our work and develop sustained cross-sector systems and resources for connection.

WORKSHOP 2: Thursday January 20th, 2022 at 2pm – Strategic, Supportive, and Intentional Event Planning (+ Naloxone training)

Workshop Registration link: https://bit.ly/3FeV8OZ

Facebook Event: www.facebook.com/events/298353495596214

Workshop Facilitators: Kerry Duncan (they/them) – Coordinator, OPIRG Brock & Claire Laurie, StreetWorks Outreach Worker, Positive Living Niagara

This workshop will cover a wide range of considerations for how to ensure your events fit within you and your groups’ capacities, are speaking to topics your primary audience is interested in, and are creating supportive environments for both your participants and organizing teams!

In addition to hosting a Naloxone training at the end of the workshop, this session will walk participants through conversations of:

  • Why plan events? What is the role of events in Niagara? What are the types of events that bring in more members of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities?
  • What types of consent practices and safety models do we need to practice in our event planning, hosting, and follow up? What are the power dynamics at play in your event planning and hosting?
  • How do we address urgency culture in event planning?
  • What are the capacity considerations around events? How do your events fit within your larger annual plan? What is the goal of your event?
  • What are some tools and best practices for building supportive events – both in-person and online? What are the different ways to promote your event?

WORKSHOP 1: January 4th, 2022 at 1pm – Trans and Queer Rights as Human Rights: An Introduction to the Ontario Human Rights Code as Law for Two-Spirit and LGBTQQIA+ Communities

Workshop Registration link: https://bit.ly/3qurLDc

Workshop Facilitators: Aidan Johnson (they/them) – Executive Director, NCLC & Silvia Dimitrova (she/her) – Director of Legal Services , NCLC & a Human Rights Law and International Law Specialist with special guest NaWalka Geeshy Meegwun – Indigenous Justice Coordinator.

Niagara Community Legal Clinic (NCLC) provides legal services to the people living on a low income in the communities of Welland, St. Catharines, Beamsville, Grimsby, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the Lake, Port Colborne, Thorold, Fort Erie, and Crystal Beach.

NCLC can:

  • Give you free legal advice by telephone or in-person
  • Prepare tribunal applications
  • Represent you at tribunals and courts on a case-by-case basis, prepare appeals and judicial reviews, where merited
  • Discuss your legal situation and give you information or refer you to other agencies when we can’t help

The Queer Justice Project – Niagara – NCLC is privileged to serve Niagara’s diverse Two Spirit and LGBTQ+ communities, vis problems ranging from human rights violations in employment and housing to the rights of trans and queer sex workers. We offer affidavit help for gender I.D. change, to all members of the trans community who need assistance in this area.

Intake number: (905) 682-6635 | Website: www.queerjustice.ca/en/about-niagara

 

Survey

We had 400+ people complete our Community Strengths & Needs Survey between August & September 2021!

Overview

This survey, alongside an environmental scan, key informant interviews, and public consultations will come together to inform a final report to OUTniagara to help identify ways of improving 2SLGBTQQIA+ community well-being in the Niagara region.

The aim of this survey is to take a quantitative approach to help us get a better understanding of our communities’ needs, priorities, and recommendations, and the strengths within the region. Because of the importance of this survey content, it was lengthier than other surveys you might have participated in.

**All questions are optional and no identifying data will be included in the final report. Please note there are questions that you may choose not to answer due to privacy or mental health reasons.**

Honouraria

All survey participants received a $20 honoraria via e-transfer or a cash honoraria if you complete the survey in-person.

Survey participants had the option to waive their honoraria. If you waive your honoraria, you may choose to be entered in a draw for an iPAD.

Surveys that receive their honoraria via e-transfer will not have the email provided linked to their survey answers to ensure anonymity. 

One-on-One or Small Group Discussions!

We also gathered data through virtual one-one or small group discussion (ie. you can sign up with a friend or partner) about the strengths and needs of Niagara’s 2SLGBTQQIA+ community.
QTBIPOC (Queer and Trans Black, Indigenous and People of Colour), rural/remote, and Francophone members of Niagara’s 2SLGBTQQIA+ community were the primary focus for these conversations. 
For participating in this form of data collection, we offered an honorarium of $60 to compensate participants’ time and efforts. 
Registration closed on Monday, November 15, 2021 at 11:59PM.
*Participation was optional and no identifying data will be included in the final report. Participants were able to withdraw consent to participate at point in the process.*

Utilisez ce formulaire (https://bit.ly/3qeLo3G) pour vous inscrire à une discussion virtuelle individuelle ou en petit groupe (c’est-à-dire que vous pouvez vous inscrire avec un-e ami-e ou un partenaire) sur les forces et les besoins de la communauté 2SLGBTQQIA+ de Niagara.

Nous invitons les membres de la communauté 2SLGBTQQIA+ de Niagara qui sont francophones à s’inscrire à une conversation.

Nous sommes heureux d’offrir à chaque personne un honoraire de 60 $ pour vous dédommagement pour son temps et ses efforts. Veuillez noter que nous procédons à l’envoi des honoraires le 15 et le 30 de chaque mois.

Les inscriptions se terminent le lundi 15 novembre 2021 à 23h59.

*La participation est facultative et aucune donnée d’identification ne sera incluse dans le rapport final. Le consentement à participer peut être retiré à tout moment du processus.

DRAW IT OUT. RAGE IT OUT. DREAM IT OUT. Community Strengths & Needs Assessment Arts Based Workshop!

This is a guided arts-based workshop for members of Niagara’s 2SLGBTQQIA+ community to write, rant, and create about the strengths, needs & dreams of our community.

Date and Time: This workshop is happening in-person on Thursday, November 18 from 4:45PM – 8:00PM with dinner included.  

Spots are limited and people who have not yet participated in the OUTniagara Community Strengths and Needs Assessment (through the survey, a focus group or individual conversation) were prioritized.

Honorarium: We offered each individual an honorarium of $60 to compensate you for your time and efforts. The honorarium will be paid to participants in cash upon conclusion of the workshop.

Agenda:

  • 4:45PM – Sign in 
  • 5:00PM – Dinner, introductions and consent check in
  • 6:00PM – Deep-Rooted reflection: Where do you feel safe? Where does your heart release? Release the weight, the expectations, the lists, and take a collective breath with this quick Deep-Rooted reflection.
  • 6:30-7:30PM: Participants will break into 2 groups of 7-8 people, and switch between the Create space and Talk space to allow everyone to participate in both creative spaces.
    • Create: Leave your mark and help co-create a visual representation of strengths, needs, and dreams. We invite you to draw, sketch, write, scribble, doodle, rip, colour, list, create, tear, and design your ideas out with various supplies on hand. 
    • Talk: Brainstorm, take a stance, and use your voice to talk about identity, community, and living in Niagara. 
  • 7:30PM – Share: Participants will come back together and exchange thoughts and reflections about what surfaced in these sessions, and where our community can go from here.
  • 8:00PM – Wrap-up 

Location, Safety and Accessibility: The workshop will take place at Silver Spire United Church, 366 St Paul Street, St. Catharines. Proof of full vaccination is required for entry. Everyone is expected to wear masks except for when eating.

Silver Spire is accessible to mobility devices with some limitations: There is a lift and accessible washroom, though this is located 10mins away in the building. The workshop will be facilitated in English. Please indicate in the registration form if you have any safety or accessibility needs to participate in this workshop. 

Transportation & Childcare: OUTniagara can provide accessibility supports, such as childcare/dependent care reimbursements and transit tickets. To request support, please complete the OUTniagara Accessibility Supports Request Form by clicking here (www.surveymonkey.com/r/OUTniagaraAccessNeedsRequestForm).

Consent & Anonymity: Your participation is optional and you can choose to withdraw your consent at any time before or during the workshop. No identifying data will be included in the final report for the Community Strengths and Needs Assessment. Depending on the artistic pieces produced and the level of anonymity reflected in the pieces, it is at the discretion of OUTniagara if the final pieces are shared or displayed with the broader community.

Hosts: OUTniagaraWisdom2ActionWillow Arts Community, Suitcase in Point

To reach this overarching goal, this project has five interdependent objectives:

  1. Increase access to evidence and stories through an extensive Community Strengths and Needs Assessment of Niagara region’s 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities across all 12 municipalities, guided by an inclusive Regional Advisory Committee (RAC), to inform OUTniagara’s work and the work of organizations that serve Niagara’s 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities;
  2. Strengthen network collaboration and foster new partnerships through: 
    • A participatory Community Strengths and Needs Assessment process
    • Collective identification of 3-8 priority recommendations
    • Collaborative identification/design of initiatives to address priority recommendations in 2022-2025;
  3. Advance 2SLGBTQQIA+ equity through an intersectional approach by including community members and service providers, including, but not limited to urban Indigenous communities, trans youth and their families, racialized and newcomer communities, and Niagara’s francophone community, as well as community members and service providers from across sexual- and gender-diversities with our partners in: 
    • The Regional Advisory Committee
    • The Community Strengths and Needs Assessment
    • Capacity building
    • Action planning to address key recommendations;
  4. Offer workshops to build the capacity and skills of Niagara’s growing 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities and service providers to address key recommendations of the Community Strengths and Needs Assessment and improve the health, well-being, inclusion, and equality of Niagara’s 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities
  5. Build OUTniagara’s governance and operational capacity to effectively coordinate strong collaborations; to take forward key recommendations; and ensure organizational sustainability through: 
    • Strategic planning
    • Board training in governance, grant proposal writing, human resources management, and financial systems

OUT IN NIAGARA Regional Advisory Committee!

OUT IN NIAGARA is the Regional Advisory Committee was established by OUTniagara to:

  • increase access to evidence and stories of 2SLGBTQQIA+ people;
  • guide the process of a Community Strengths and Needs Assessment;
  • provide feedback on the findings of the Community Strengths and Needs Assessment; and implement recommendations from the Community Strengths and Needs Assessment.

Mandate
Using an anti-racism and anti-oppression approach, the mandate of the committee is to guide and make evidence-based recommendations about the Community Strengths and Needs Assessment being carried out for the Informed, Inclusive, Indivisible: Collectively Advancing 2SLGBTQ+ Equality i n Niagara+ project.

Goals / Purpose
The goals of the committee are to:

  • increase access to evidence and stories of 2SLGBTQQIA+ people;
  • guide the process of a Community Strengths and Needs Assessment;
  • provide feedback on the findings of the Community Strengths and Needs Assessment; and
  • implement recommendations from the Community Strengths and Needs Assessment

Responsibilities

All RAC members, including the co-chairs, have the responsibility to help achieve the RAC’s mandate and goals/purposes. Committee members are also responsible for:

  • Reviewing meeting materials in advance of the meetings and arriving prepared to provide a broad perspective on the issues under consideration
  • Working diligently to complete assigned activities
  • Participating on working groups, as appropriate
  • Agreeing to describe, process, and resolve issues in a professional and respectful manner
  • Providing input to help identify future projects or strategic priorities for future years’ work
  • Communicating activities of the committee to groups represented or those who may have an interest and offer information back to the committee

Phase 1 Working groups shall, at minimum, including the following:

  • QTBIPOC – Consisting only of individuals with lived experience as a Black, Indigenous, or person of colour
  • Disability and Mental Health – Consisting of individuals with lived experience with disability and/or mental health needs
  • Poverty – Consisting of individuals, as geographically dispersed as possible, from across Niagara who have lived experience with poverty
  • Multi-generational – Consisting of individuals from across our age demographics
  • Geographic representation – Consisting of one individual from each of Niagara’s 12 municipalities
  • Communications/media – Helping to develop communications materials/messages and reach out to media
  • The RAC may choose to form other working groups as necessary and appropriate

As the project continues to evolve and we are approaching the results of our Community Strengths & Needs Assessment, as of October 2021 our OUT IN Niagara working groups are now:

  • QTBIPOC Geographic Representation
  • Multi-generational Communication

Q: What is the title of the project?

A: Informed, Inclusive, Indivisible: Collectively Advancing 2SLGBTQ+ Equality in Niagara+. OUT IN Niagara is the name of the Regional Advisory Committee and the Community Strengths & Needs Assessment.

Q: Is this project associated with the Niagara Region?

A: No, this project is not run by or formally associated with the Niagara Region or the regional government. When we use the term ‘regional’, we are referring to this project aiming to serve our communities across the 12 municipalities of the Niagara region. 

Separate from our project, the Project Coordinator, Laura Ip, also serves as a Regional Councillor and was elected in 2018. 

Q: Which parts of Niagara is this project meant to serve?

A: The project covers all 12 municipalities and is intended to strengthen networks and representation across all of Niagara

Q: How is this project funded?

A: OUTniagara was awarded $299,941 from the Department of Women and Gender Equality Canada (formerly the Department for the Status of Women), under their LGBTQ2 Community Capacity Fund to deliver the project: Informed, Inclusive, Indivisible: Collectively Advancing 2SLGBTQ+ Equality in Niagara+

Q: What is this project trying to achieve? 

A: To reach this overarching goal, this project has five interdependent objectives:

  1. Increase access to evidence and stories through an extensive Community Strengths and Needs Assessment of Niagara region’s 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities across all 12 municipalities, guided by an inclusive Regional Advisory Committee (RAC), to inform OUTniagara’s work and the work of organizations that serve Niagara’s 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities;
  2. Strengthen network collaboration and foster at least five new partnerships through: 
    1. A participatory Community Strengths and Needs Assessment process
    2. Collective identification of 3-8 priority recommendations
    3. Collaborative identification/design of initiatives to address priority recommendations in 2022-2025;
  3. Advance 2SLGBTQQIA+ equity through an intersectional approach by including community members and service providers from communities OUTniagara has not worked with previously, including: urban Indigenous communities, trans youth and their families, racialized and newcomer communities, and Niagara’s francophone community, as well as community members and service providers from across sexual- and gender-diversities with our partners in: 
    1. The Regional Advisory Committee
    2. The Community Strengths and Needs Assessment
    3. Capacity building
    4. Action planning to address key recommendations;
  4. Offer workshops to build the capacity and skills of Niagara’s growing 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities and service providers to address key recommendations of the Community Strengths and Needs Assessment and improve the health, well-being, inclusion, and equality of Niagara’s 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities
  5. Build OUTniagara’s governance and operational capacity to effectively coordinate strong collaborations; to take forward key recommendations; and ensure organizational sustainability through: 
    1. Strategic planning
    2. Board training in governance, grant proposal writing, human resources management, and financial systems

Q: What’s the timeline for this project?

A: The deadline for completing the goals of this project is March 2022

Q: Will you be hiring anyone else?

A: In addition to the Project Coordinator and the Project Assistant, we have hired the following professional services: bookkeeper, lawyer, graphic designer

  • As the project progresses, we have additional funds reserved for professional fees/honoraria, as needed
  • Through the project we will be hiring the following consultants (with input from the Regional Advisory Committee):
  • Community Strengths & Needs Assessment Consultant
  • Governance & Management Consultant
  • Strategic Planning Consultant

Q: Will members of the Regional Advisory Committee be paid?

A: We have honoraria reserved for members of the Regional Advisory Committee

  • Members of the Regional Advisory Committee who will not be eligible for an honorarium will be the following:
  • Members from the OUTniagara Board of Directors
  • Members who sit on the committee as a part of their paid employment (labour will be paid for by their employer)

Q: How will this project help me and my fellow community members?

A: This project is meant to create long-term tools built by the community for the community.

A collaborative project like this will provide a more comprehensive understanding of the complex issues faced by our communities.

An array of COVID-safe programming will be offered as a means of community engagement throughout this project.

We have consistently seen that it takes multiple years for people to get involved. By understanding barriers, we can better create more streamlined processes for people to get connected sooner. 

Q: How can I get involved?

A: There will be a range of options for people to get involved:

  1. In the coming weeks, we will be looking for people to join the Regional Advisory Committee. Priorities for the composition for the RAC will be people identifying across 2SLGBTQQIA+ identities across the 12 municipalities. Priority will be given to Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour applicants.
  2. Region-wide Community Needs Survey – this survey will go to all of the organizations across the region. We are striving to connect with people who are not yet connected to groups and services in the region, and are working on an extensive outreach strategy.
  3. Through Community Strengths and Needs Assessment, there will be a range of activities and programmings that people can participate in. 

Q: Will politicians be involved?

A: At this point, nine politicians at the municipal, regional, provincial, and federal levels have provided letters of support for the project. For the time being, politicians will be notified with announcements on a regular basis.

Q: How will this project address the blatant homophobia and transphobia in the region?

A: Addressing the discrimination in our region means acknowledging these problems head on and creating stronger networks of solidarity.

We must accept that issues such as the transphobic and racist comments made by the West Lincoln mayor continue to harm our communities, and we must create supports that hold space for anger, sadness, hurt, and healing, as a part of this work.

In addition to the blatant homophobia and transphobia in the region, our work also needs to address the less obvious issues that are causing harm and precarity.

Issues like ensuring 2SLGBTQQIA+ curriculum in schools and region-wide policies around building trans-inclusive health care, businesses, and environments, while less visible, need to be acknowledged and factored in as potential barriers and included in our organizing.

There are many complex issues in our region, such as high unemployment especially for youth and young adults, the housing crisis, the opioid epidemic, and the many intersecting issues around racism, xenophobia, and cultural appropriation are some of the additional considerations for addressing homophobia and transphobia

Q: If the staff and most the board are based out of St. Catharines, how will smaller municipalities be prioritized?

A: We share these concerns and feel it will be very important to prioritize the many communities often underrepresented in many regional initiatives.

Building relationships with organizations and community groups in these towns is an essential first step for ensuring thoughtful and sustainable networking.

The project team is already in motion for reaching out to existing support networks and organizations in these areas, and want to start by ensuring enough time to understand the barriers in the different towns/cities in order to address them appropriately.

Q: How will this project incorporate the arts communities?

A: As a part of our programming for this project, we have several arts sessions planned. Niagara is filled with so many artists exploring a range of mediums and forms of expression. From a robust theatre community to a vast network of independent artistic entrepreneurs, the arts offer a unique opportunity to engage with folks and bring people into the conversation of how to build comprehensive support structures for our region.

Q: Can youth be involved?

A: Absolutely! There are so many innovative young people in our region across all identities, and we are excited to work with them!

We are currently working on a set of policies and procedures to ensure that we are implementing all necessary safeguards for youth engagement.

Q: Why is the organization I work with/volunteer with OR the social group I attend each week not already a community partner for this project?

A: Many groups are connected to the project that were not able to submit support letters during the initial application process.

As we build the Regional Advisory Committee and complete extensive outreach for the Community Strengths and Needs Assessment, it is likely that the group you are involved with will circulate information about this project.

We recommend that if you haven’t received information about this project through the group you are involved in, you connect the primary organizers/executives to our team. You can do this by sending an email to laura@outniagara.ca with the information/e-troducing our team to your group.

Staff members (for more information click here)

OUTniagara Board Project Team (info@outniagara.ca)

  • Aidan Johnson
  • Celeste Turner
  • Gab Doak
  • Karen Whynot

Consultants & Contractors

  • Wisdom2Action – Community Strengths & Needs Assessment Consultant
  • Decolonize Now – Governance Consultant
  • JVU Creatives
  • Willow Arts Community
  • Suitcase in Point

FUNDING INFORMATION

NEWS ARTICLES!