As the calendar approaches the most colorful month of the year, Pride Month (June), the World Health Organization (WHO) finally got things right with notable changes to their global manual of diagnoses. According to BBC News, WHO now accepts that “Transgender health issues will no longer be classified as mental and behavioural disorders.” Going forward, transgender health and issues of “gender incongruence” can be found under a chapter on sexual health.
While this announcement is considered to have a “liberating effect on transgender people worldwide,” there is still caution that transgender is noted under sexual health, as if a choice to exercise.
According to BBC News countries have until 2022 to put changes in place.
Source cited: BBC News
In a world where technology and advancement has enabled us to send an instant message to someone across the country; check out our own groceries or attend a wedding without leaving our own home, how can we be so behind in basic human rights?
How can so many countries and individuals not believe in the simple truth? LOVE IS LOVE! Regardless of gender identification, assigned sex, or sexual preference we ALL should have simple right to love freely and who we want.
Today, over 70 countries around the world still criminalize same-sex relationships. Many LGBTQ+ people continue to experience severe human rights abuses and persecution in their home countries. Often fleeing from their countries and homes in search of freedom and justice all in the name of love.
May 17th is recognized by many countries as International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. A day aimed to raise awareness globally of LBGTQ+ rights, while encouraging change and inclusion.
Joining the worldwide celebration, members of Bay St. George Coalition to End Violence joined the Western Pride committee at the Town of Stephenville Office on Friday afternoon as Major Tom Rose read and signed a proclamation declaring IDAHOT a day to be celebrated and recognized in the small community. Mayor Rose spoke with pride how he feels proud of his community and his council’s commitment to ensuring Stephenville is a community known for inclusion and acceptance.
BSGCEV Chair Bernice Hancock, thanked the three dozen individuals gathered for their continued dedication to enticing and encouraging acceptance and change. However, she also added, that “While we have come a long way, there is still so much more that needs to be done.”
Following the proclamation signing, the group gathered outside as the Pride Flag was lifted to fly outside the town office.
Heart-filled chocolates and flowers are what comes to mind for most when one says February. But, for the Violence Prevention Southwest committee February brings images of pink Stand Up shirts, kind words and messages. Aptly named, the month of love is also Violence Prevention Month. Communities, schools and organizations are all encouraged to spread kindness to each other while promoting anti-bullying messages.
Local coordinating committees in Burgeo, Port aux Basques and Bay St. George host and support many events. Among these are municipality proclamation and flag-raising, Stand Up day in school, social media challenge, hot chocolate message campaigns, offering Violence Action Awareness Training and encouraging local residents and businesses to decorate their window fronts in pink. Whatever the event the message is the same…Spread the Kindness.
Although February has come and gone, the work for this organization continues for the next eleven months and each calendar year thereafter until the message is as expected and steady as the beat of each heart. Spread the Kindness every day, not just for 28 in February.
Check out our Facebook VPM photo album for pics of the many events, organizations, schools and individuals who have vowed to Stand Up against bullying and violence.
In partnership with the Bay St. George Coalition to End Violence, NAWN (Newfoundland Aboriginal Women’s Network, facilitated a one-day Cultural Sensitivity training to front-line service providers, post-secondary students, health and justice providers along with other governmental department and community organizations as part of the Violence Prevention Month activity and event line-up.
Setting the pace for the day, participants enjoyed a traditional opening engaging in song, smudging and opening prayer. The morning’s agenda covered information on the indigenous heritage, a history of the oppression, an awareness of the indigenous groups in our province and an overview of their history. During the afternoon, what was preconceived by the participants as a fun, interactive activity, soon turned emotional as, the Blanket Exercise, gave life to the challenges of the indigenous people and how they suffered at the hands of the “white” people and how resiliency is a huge part of their culture and proud heritage.
Four narrators told the story of a once-happy people who were emotional and physically beat down, drove from their homelands, killed off by deadly infectious diseases and had their families torn apart as their children were “scooped” from them during the ‘Sixties Scoop.” For many, self-identified, indigenous people in the room, the interactive Blanket Exercise slowly gave an emotional indication of the plight and suffering of their ancestors. As many tried to form their thoughts and feelings into words, raw emotions were evident. Words such as embarrassment, anger, heart-break and speechless were among those used to describe the feelings following the activity.
Coming together in union, hand-in-hand the participants, following an emotional day, swayed and joined in song and prayer as the day’s training came to an end with many a promise to continue educating and advocating for respect for all people. As Kofi Annan said, “We may have different religions, different languages, different colors of skin, but we all belong to one human race.”
Remember, during Violence Prevention Month, and every other month, be kind to each other; don’t judge until you have walked a mile in their shoes.
Another session will be held on Thursday, March 7, 2019. For more information contact 643-4563.
Members of BSG Coalition to End Violence, a local coordinating committee under Violence Prevention Southwest, gathered at the Stephenville Town Council on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019 to witness the proclamation of February being observed as Violence Prevention Month in Stephenville. A group of 32 youth, seniors, and various community organizations and government officials sat dressed in pink as Mayor Tom Rose charged each of us as responsible for ensuring the message for anti-violence moves forward with us as we go about our daily lives in ou
r respective communities.“We must make sure our voices are heard in society!”
Bernice Hancock, Chair, BSG Coalition to End Violence, thanked all for coming out. “We each have a role, every day let’s remember what we can do and help make our community, our schools and our workplaces violent-free.” Adding, she spoke to the students in the room. “You are the future generation that will help us end violence.”
Janice Kennedy, Executive Director of the BSG Status of Women’s Council urged that “when someone says that something is not right, believe them! Take advantages of the resources in our community.” She spoke of the recent tragedy in Conne River and told how a red dress still hangs in the window of the Women’s Center in remembrance of all the missing and murdered indigenous women in our country.
Reading the proclamation, Mayor Rose added, “Violence does not just affect the individual but it moves outward with it’s ripple effect felt by many.”
“Twenty-nine years later, and we are still committed to keeping their memory alive” This was the sentiment spoken by Michelle Felix, Assistant to MP Gudie Hutchings in reflection of the massacre that happened on December 6, 1989 at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec. In her delivery of a letter sent by MP Gudie Hutchings, MP Hutchings pledged to continue working towards a future where “gender-based violence must not be tolerated in this country.”
December 6 is a day in Canadian history that is not remembered as a great one, or one that provokes happy thoughts. Instead it is filled with grief, heartache and sorrow. It is on this day 29 years ago that 14 women, strong, independent and intelligent, were targeted, shot down and killed simply because they were women.
During a candlelight vigil held at LA Bown in Stephenville on December 6, Bernice Hancock, co-chair of the BSG Status of Womens Council, recounted that fateful day’s events.
“Marc Lépine, a lone gunman, ran through the hallways and entered a classroom on the first floor. He separated the men and the women and asked the men to leave the room. He shot the women. He then proceeded through the school, specifically targeting women. Within fifteen minutes, he had murdered 14 women and injured thirteen other students. He carried a note stating that he blamed women for all the problems in his life and in society as a whole.”
She recalled as a young mother of a son, how Lepine’s mother must be tormented and the sorrow she must have felt knowing that her child, her son, committed such a violent act then took his own life. Ms. Hancock spoke of her own commitment and vow to raise her son “to be a strong, caring, kind man who would see women as equal and respect them.”
Since 1989, the BSG Status of Womens Council, the College of the North Atlantic, in partnership with the BSG Coalition to End Violence invite community members and students to gather in memory and remembrance of these 14 young women and the hundreds of aboriginal women who are either missing, or murdered because of their gender and/or ethnicity.
Raw emotions were visible as the names of each of the 14 are read aloud with a description of their all-too-soon ended lives. Roses were laid in their honour and candles lit offering light to come from the darkness.
Words of encouragement and hope were offered by Sharon Williston, Executive Director of the Newfoundland Aborginal Women’s Network.
“Take a look around here today. Many stay in unhealthy relationships because we don’t think we are worth it. We don’t hold value in our lives, but look around. These are people who care…care for you. If you need help. If you need to speak to someone, look around, these are people who can and will help you. You are not alone!”
Executive Director, Janice Kennedy brought words of empowerment and offered 14 acts of action that each individual can choose to do to help change this world in which gender-based violence is still apparent.
Following the vigil, BSGSWC board member, and previous recipient, Brenda Dennis awarded the Stephanie Cormier Chassion Leadership award to 2nd year Community Studies student, Lenny Tiller for his outstanding leadership qualities and commitment to the college and the community at large.
In concluding the event, Ms. Hancock invited everyone to remember today, to remember these women “and to go forward in this world and make it a better place. Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Bernice Hancock, Executive Director of Community Education Network, coordinating agency of Southwestern Coalition to End Violence, welcomed everyone to the 11th Annual General Meeting of SWCEV. A special welcome was given to those who were participating in the Inclusive Communities Regional Conference.
Providing a brief history and background of Southwestern Coalition to End Violence, Bernice acknowledged the continued financial contribution provided by the Provincial Government through the Violence Prevention Initiative. Identifying the uniqueness of the SWCEV, one of nine Regional Coordinating Committees (RCC), being it is the only RCC that has three local coordinating committees (LCC) under one umbrella: Peaceful Communities (Port aux Basques and coastal communities); H.E.L.P Committee (Burgeo & area); and the Bay St. George Coalition to End Violence (BSG area).
Following the recommendation of Violence Prevention Newfoundland and Labrador, she announced that SWCEV has officially changed their name to Violence Prevention Southwest (VPSW) with all social media and website reflecting the change.
The 2017-2018 Annual Activity Report, Financial Report and the Audited Financial Statements was presented. Members from each LCC was invited to highlight their respective committee and year.
Krystal Hill of Peaceful Communities; Kathy Cutler of H.E.L.P Committee and Janice Kennedy of BSG Coalition to End Violence highlighted activities over the past year. Common highlights included:
- Sexual Violence Awareness activities
- World Elder Abuse Awareness Day events
- Violence Prevention Month initiatives and partnerships in the community and schools.
- Community Education and Public Awareness Activities ongoing
- Suicide Prevention presentations
- Lunch and Learn activities
- 16 Days of Activism
Those in attendance were thanked by Bernice and invited to view a 45-minute all-access documentary revealing Gemma Hickey’s physical changes and internal struggles during their gender transformation.
Gemma is best known for co-leading the movement that legalized same-sex marriage in Canada and they’re the founder of Pathways, an organization that offers support to survivors of clergy sexual abuse.
Following the screening participants enjoyed a time of networking and socializing including offering a traditional ritual of making one of Egale Canada’s facilitators a honourary Newfoundlander.
October 11 is National Coming Out day. For those of us who do not live in disguise, or fear of our gender this is just another day. However, for those in the LBGTQI2S (Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Gay, Trans, Queer, Intersex, 2 Spirited) community, this is a day of strength, celebration and inclusivity.
For the 60 people gathered at Days Inn in Stephenville, Oct 11 was an emotionally packed day of training, learning and camaraderie.
Front line service providers from the southwest coast were invited to attend SWCEV’s Inclusive Communities Regional Conference Oct 10-11, 2018. Folks from various government departments, the health sector, community agencies, Parks Canada, educational field and counsellors availed of this free opportunity to learn how to create safe and welcoming programs and services.
While the conference content may have been convoluted and heavy at times, Martin Krajcik and Kevin Welbes Godin, facilitators with Egale Canada, kept the days flowing and light with their recognized experience and ability to read their audience.
During his self-introduction, Martin set the pace for the conference by telling the group, “I’m passionate about human rights…I’m not here to change your beliefs, we want to change our behaviours.”
With candid conversation, definition explanations, interactive group activities, and teaching videos participants were challenged by Kevin to leave the conference with at least one promise/commitment to help change and educate on LBGTQ issues. There was an abundant discussion on the importance of pronouns and the difference between sex and gender, (“gender identification originates in the brain not the genitals”). Healthy conversation flowed when discussing how important self-expression and identity are, especially to those in the LBGTQI2S community. Most of us do not want to be boxed in, so why limit ourselves to how we look, behave and express ourselves? In fact, today, with so many mental health issues arising, we should encourage the opposite. We each all have so many different identities (parent, child, employee, volunteer…), different struggles…one cannot possibly know us just by looking at us, as one said “they cannot know what it would look like to look through my eyes.”
Staggering statistics on Day 2 delivered by Kevin set the mood for discussing the Trans individual and their lives. 42% of Canadian Youth are homeless because of their sexual orientation, with 40% of suicide victims in the LBGTQI2S community. Mary Barter, Youth Engagement Coordinator attending, was angered by these statistics. “I feel angry that people have to feel isolated and alone.”
Following the morning discussion, participants engaged in an impactful activity inviting participants to live a few emotional moments as a LBGTQI2S individual. Coming Out Stars enticed tears, fear and internal reflection that proffered declaration of personal change and influence.
“As a mother of a child who has come out as gay, I fear for the life she will live.”
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by friends and family who have supported me.”
“What a risk it is to come out, I don’t live that world, and found myself unable to relate, but I feel guilty that I am part of a society that has caused so much pain.”
As the conference came to a close, Kevin reminded everyone of his earlier challenge to make changes, to educate and make the world more inclusive and safer for all. Some suggestions included offering preferred pronouns in email signature lines, providing support and training for staff; placing visuals and communications in public areas of office, changing policies to specify acceptance; and use inclusive language to name a few.
Kevin and Martin congratulated the participants for taking part in the change by attending the conference. Thanking SWCEV for the opportunity, Kevin added “doing seminars like this will help the next generation with supports in ‘coming out'”
For more information on how you can create an inclusive, safer work place environment check out Egale Canada.
Thank you to the Western Star for covering our conference in the media. Check it out!