Pride Month

June 16, 2021

By Wellness team

Pride Month

In many countries around the world, June is observed as Pride Month, a month-long commemoration and celebration of activism and culture within 2SLGBTQ+ (Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex) communities. In this month’s wellness article, we provide a snapshot into the experiences of a member of the NorQuest Pride Committee, Rebecca Hardie (she/her), Chair, Arts & Sciences, Indigenous Studies.

What does Pride mean to – or for - you?

My first experience with Pride was the really huge Toronto Pride Parade – what an experience! The media estimated that one million people watched the parade that year, and I was one of them. To see everyone so happy and proud to be themselves actually brought tears to my eyes. I know that Pride Parades are criticized for some very valid reasons, but for me, coming from a small town, growing up not knowing a single out queer person – it was emotional and overwhelming to see so many people who were so happy and proud to be part of this community. So, Pride for me is representative of the feeling I had then, that I would and could be accepted as the person I am, by so many people.

What is the biggest challenge, in your opinion, as an advocate for the 2SLGBTQ+ community? Either at NorQuest, or in wider society?

NorQuest has some important steps to take. First, as we move into a post-pandemic world, NorQuest can unveil a Queer Student Alliance (QSA), where 2SLGBTQ+ staff, students, faculty members, allies, and SANQC reps can gather to support each other. The Pride Committee will begin meetings soon about how we might structure this QSA at NorQuest. Some of our students might be unaware about NorQuest’s 2SLGBTQ+ community and our commitment to inclusion. We don’t have a Pride Centre that many other post-secondary schools have, so we need to work at not being invisible. The QSA is a good starting place for this.

What gives you hope in regards to people who identify as 2SLGBTQ+?

This movement in North America has been happening for five decades now – a LOT has changed! It has gone through phases where only men were represented, where only white people had voices, where Bi and Trans people were actively excluded… and on and on. As a community today, we are much, much more inclusive than we have ever been. This gives me hope for a future where those excluded – including black, indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) who are 2SLGBTQ+ – can find home in this community.  

What is one piece of advice you would give to anyone working with people from the 2SLGBTQ+ community, either as coworkers, or in supporting students?

Please take the time to understand the difference between gender identity and sexual identity. Understand why pronouns are important. Don’t assume that, because it’s 2021, and we live in Canada, 2SLGBTQ+ people don’t face homophobia, bashing, or judgement. We do. Rather than assuming you know what we need, ask us.

What is one piece of advice you would give to students/employees from the 2SLGBTQ+ community who do not feel supported, represented, or included at work or school?

Find a supportive person as soon as you can. There are many of us at NorQuest, including many at the Centre for Growth and Harmony who can help you with what you need, even if it might be practical tips to deal with difficult family members. Reach out – the help is here.

If the sky was the limit, what would you like to see change within post-secondaries in order to be more inclusive and supportive of 2SLGBTQ+ people?

I’ll make this NorQuest specific: I would like to see two Pride events per year: one during Pride month in June and one during the academic year. I would like to see training for staff and faculty who might need some up-to-date information about what certain terms mean, why pronouns are important, and how to make classrooms and public spaces on campus friendlier to 2SLGBTQ+ people. I would like more spaces on campus to be visibly Pride-friendly. I would like sharing circles for new Canadian/international student/immigrant, and BIPOC 2SLGBTQ+ only people to be available.

The Wellness Team has created a brand-new module within the Discrimination and Mental Health workshop, focusing on homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, and the associated impact of these on the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Check it out here.

For mental health and wellness supports available to the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Edmonton, visit the Rainbow Pages where you will find a list of community services and resources. If you are a NorQuest Student, you can also access support from our Counsellors and Social Workers at the Centre for Growth & Harmony, 780.644.6155.