Residents, guests participate in Be Free Be Me Conference
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
More than 100 people from Sioux Lookout and surrounding communities participated in the first ever Be Free Be Me 2SLGBTQ+ Conference, which was hosted at the Nishnawbe-Gamik Friendship Centre on Nov. 2 and Sioux North High School on Nov. 3.
The free, two day event explored inclusivity through interactive workshops, group activities, and arts based programming.
The conference was hosted by the Sioux Lookout Community Gay-Straight-Alliance (GSA) and funded by a grant from the federal government through Justin Trudeau’s Apology Project and is distributed by The 519 organization.
“We were excited because we had representation not only from Sioux Lookout but from our surrounding areas as well. We had participants from Dryden, Lac Seul First Nation and Sioux Lookout. We’ve been planning this event now for the past couple months, so it felt amazing to see people coming out and the chairs full. This is exactly what we were hoping for,” said conference coordinator Stephanie Diebolt.
On Nov. 2, participants gathered at the Friendship Centre to learn grandfather drum teachings and teachings on two-spirit identities followed by dinner and a services fair.
On Nov. 3, participants enjoyed a keynote presentation and musical performance from Melody McKiver along with workshops that included honouring identities, trans and gender diverse healthcare, creating 2SLGBTQ+ inclusive schools and more.
Diebolt shared that the Sioux Lookout Community GSA could potentially be hosting fewer, but more frequent, workshops throughout the year. According to a post in the conference event page on Facebook, participants will have the chance to share their feedback through online evaluations this week on the Sioux Lookout Community GSA Facebook page, which could determine future events and platforms.
The post shared, “Thank you/Meegwetch to everyone for joining in our conference this weekend! It means a lot to have our community gather together to learn and show support for 2SLGBTQ+. We will be giving an opportunity to hear feedback through online evaluations next week and will share some education and resources from the conference on our Sioux Lookout GSA page.”
Those looking to stay up to date on GSA events throughout the year can do so via Facebook (www.facebook.com/siouxGSA) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/siouxgsa).