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

Staff members (for more information click here)

OUTniagara Board Project Team (info@outniagara.ca)

  • Celeste Turner
  • Karen Whynot
  • Kate Alexander

Consultants & Contractors

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

Working groups shall, at minimum, including the following:

  • BIPOC – 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.

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.

NEWS ARTICLES!

FUNDING INFORMATION