The Rainbow Coalition of Yellowknife is developing resources to educate the NWT on 2SLGBTQIPA+ inclusion, and it’s looking for help from northern communities.
The non-profit received almost $305,000 in funding from the federal government’s LGBTQ2 Community Capacity Fund in February to create training modules and educational resources. It was one of 72 groups across Canada to be awarded money.
To inform the development process, the organization is hosting a series of online Zoom discussion sessions for members of the northern 2SLGBTQIPA+ community to share their thoughts on what those materials should look like.
Jacq Brasseur, one of the Rainbow Coalition’s founders, is leading the project.
“The hope is that in these discussion groups, we learn about how northern LGBTQ people understand different concepts or ideas,” they said, “but also how they want us teaching those concepts to people across the North.
“It’s really an opportunity for LGBTQ folks in the North to be deciding what non-LGBTQ people are learning about in terms of how to best support and build a more inclusive territory for all.”
As it stands, the Rainbow Coalition provides training on 2SLGBTQIPA+ inclusion to northern workplaces and has resources on its website that people can download and use.
However, the materials were last updated five years ago and are in need of an update, according to executive director Chelsea Thacker.
“The ways that the 2SLGBTQIPA+ community shapes information change every few years,” they said. “What matters most to us is that people are educated and informed, and we can’t make sure that they’re educated and informed without making sure that they have the right tools.”
The organization hopes to use updated materials to improve its existing training and introduce a 2SLGBTQIPA+ curriculum into NWT schools, alongside making more resources available at its centre in downtown Yellowknife.
The first discussion group took place on Friday.
Each session focuses on a different aspect on the 2SLGBTQIPA+ community. For example, there are discussion groups for gay and lesbian youth, polysexual people, and transgender people.
Brasseur encouraged members of the NWT’s 2SLGBTQIPA+ community, as well as allies and those interested in learning more, to get involved in the sessions.
They said educating people on 2SLGBTQIPA+ communities is a necessary first step in combatting prejudice.
“We know that homophobia, transphobia, and other types of violence against LGBTQ people are often wrapped up in ignorance, and … people not understanding these communities or issues or topics,” they said.
“When people are more educated or have a better understanding of these realities, they’re less likely to be perpetuating violence against LGBTQ people. If we want the North to be a place where LGBTQ people – particularly trans and gender-diverse people – feel safe and supported, then people need to better understand LGBTQ issues, identities, and communities.”
Equally as important is having northern-centric materials so the local 2SLGBTQIPA+ community is properly represented, Brasseur continued.
The organization has funding for the project until March 2022.
Thacker said it will be building resources and workshops to be reviewed by December of this year, then will start travelling to communities and piloting the materials from January to March.
Thacker added the organization will be looking to train locals in communities to deliver the training as a means of building capacity across the territory.
“We’re called the Rainbow Coalition of Yellowknife, which is really misleading because people think that we only do work for Yellowknife,” they said, “but we’re actually servicing the entire territory.
“What’s really important is that we look at training people in other regions of the NWT to be able to facilitate those workshops and explain those resources to people in their community, so we can expand our reach and grow.”
Summer programs hit the schedule
As the Rainbow Coalition prepares to celebrate its 10-year anniversary on June 27, it has launched a full roster of summer programming for youth.
July will mark the third rendition of its Queer Justice and Community Arts Camp at Folk on the Rocks. Complete with artist mentors and a final performance on stage, it brings 10 youth from the NWT together to discuss social justice issues and transform their thoughts into art.
This year’s mentor group is Partner, a queer band from the East Coast.
“It’s an opportunity to not only create music with people who do that full-time for a living but are from the community and are invested in talking about queer issues,” Thacker said.
“Getting people to listen to queer social justice and other social justice issues like climate change … through art, music, spoken word is another really powerful way to get that message across.”
Youth aged 16 to 24 who are interested in participating can apply on the Rainbow Coalition website.
Applications are also open for the non-profit’s annual Qmunity Camp, set to take place from August 23 to 29.