Sioux Lookout GSA and Pride hosting two-day conference
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Sioux Lookout’s Gay-Straight-Alliance (GSA) and Pride are hosting a free, two-day Be Free Be Me 2SLGBTQ+ conference on Nov. 2 and 3.
The conference is funded by a grant from the Federal Government through Justin Trudeau’s Apology Project and is distributed by The 519 organization.
“We applied to The 519 organization for the grant, and we were one of five to be selected in Ontario and Nunavut. From there we began to plan the conference, and it’s all come together in the last few months,” said Stephanie Diebolt, who is one of the conference coordinators.
The conference is described as, “…an opportunity for all to learn and build community together. This free, two day event will explore inclusivity through interactive workshops, group activities, and arts based programming. Whether you identify as 2SLGBTQ+, an ally, a caregiver, an educator, a healthcare professional, a service provider, or someone who wants to learn more, all are welcome at this exciting event.”
Nov. 2 programming will include a service fair of agencies and organizations in Sioux Lookout who support the 2SLGBTQ+ communities, as well as a Grandfather Drum, 2-Spirit teachings, and a communal dinner. The programming will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Nishnawbe-Gamik Friendship Centre.
Nov. 3 programming will include a keynote speech and performance by local resident Melody McKiver, an interactive group workshop offered by Rainbow Resource Centre, and sessions for youth, educators, health care professionals, and community members. They will end the day with an arts based activity to represent Sioux Lookout’s commitment to creating a welcoming place for folks who identify as 2SLGBTQ+. This programming will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Sioux North High School (formerly Queen Elizabeth District High School).
Diebolt shared that the outreach for the conference has branched out beyond Sioux Lookout.
“We’ve had people from surrounding communities reach out to us from Kenora and Dryden, so we know our reach is going further then just Sioux Lookout. We’ve been connecting with Lac Seul, reaching out to schools within KPDSB (Keewatin-Patricia District School Board) as well as Pelican Falls First Nations High School. We’ve also had people that would like to offer workshops as well,” she said.
From the conference, Diebolt is hoping to see more residents joining the Sioux Lookout GSA. They’re also looking at offering more support and resources for residents and the schoolboard.
“We’re hoping that some things that could stem from this conference could be an adult support type group or network. We’re looking at offering ongoing education at the schoolboard level as well. We’d also love to increase membership to our GSA,” she concluded.
Registrations for the Be Free Be Me conference are being accepted up to the same day. The registration link can be found on the Sioux Lookout Community GSA Facebook page.