Sherbourne Health Centre: Mosaic News - Fall/Winter 2017 Edition

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Fall/Winter 2017

Welcome to the Fall/Winter 2017 edition of Mosaic News, Sherbourne Health Centre’s newsletter. Subscribe to receive biannual updates on our diverse programs and services.

SOY H.E.A.T. videos educate on LGBTQ youth issues “Intersectionality … do you know what that means?” Supporting Our Youth (SOY)’s program SOY H.E.A.T. (Human Rights. Equity. Access. Team.) launched three educational videos in September as new teaching materials to address key issues that LGBTQ youth face. Developed with production company Route Eleven, the short 2-3 minute videos are presented as conversations between children, youth and tweens, addressing topics on intersectionality, pronoun usage and allyship. H.E.A.T. is a training program at Sherbourne for emerging youth leaders interested in social justice. It empowers queer and trans spectrum youth to be speakers, trainers, ambassadors and role models for social justice, human rights and anti-oppressive initiatives. H.E.A.T. youth conceptualized the project as a way to demonstrate the power and knowledge of young people and their ability to teach. (continued on page 2)

In this issue 3

Showcasing ‘The Face of Our Story’ Hep C art exhibit


Launch of online primary care tool for trans health

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Special visits to Sherbourne Celebrating SOY’s Sensational 17th Bowlathon


SOY Express flourishes while helping local queer youth


HAPI project connects clients with OHIP cards / Ambassadors help fight the flu


TD supports Trans_Fusion Crew / ‘Dance to Health’ initiative kicks off


Introducing a tasty & delicious new fall campaign


Growing our trans health services


Implementing relief efforts this winter season

A note from the CEO... “Welcome to the latest Fall/Winter 2017 edition of Mosaic News. As the new year approaches and the season changes, there comes the promise of great growth and transformation. It’s been a busy year for our team at Sherbourne, and we’ve experienced some tremendous growth and change of our own. In this issue, we’ll showcase some of the dynamic work being done within our diverse programs and services, including expanding our health promotion, outreach and educational activities, strengthening our fundraising efforts and enhancing the high quality, safe care that we provide to our community. I hope you enjoy it. With several new and exciting projects underway this spring, I look forward to sharing the many more opportunities that await us in the months ahead.” – Hazelle Palmer, CEO, Sherbourne Health Centre

SOY H.E.A.T. videos continued... “H.E.A.T. is founded on the belief that by educating members of the community about anti-oppression, there’s a ripple effect that cultivates more respect for diversity, and builds social capital amongst the LGBTQ2S youth community,” says H.E.A.T. Coordinator John Caffery. “These videos aim to start conversations that expand the ripple effect of positive change.”

This This JUST IN!

H.E.A.T. youth leaders work to develop a sense of possibility and action around social issues through a shared opportunity of learning.

Congratulations to SOY for being named this year’s winner as ‘Best Youth Organization’ in Toronto for the NOW Readers’ Choice Awards 2016! In the videos, young people are seen engaging in oneon-one conversations and sharing knowledge to help decode the meaning of intersectionality, pronoun usage and allyship, and explain why respecting them is important. By showing discussions between young people of different ages, the videos aim to challenge adults who often overcomplicate explanations or avoid conversations about real life issues with young people.

Young people take part in filming H.E.A.T. videos that educate on key issues faced by LGBTQ youth.


Support for this initiative has been provided by a grant from the Vital Toronto Fund at the Toronto Foundation.

Unmasking ‘The Face of Our Story’

Hep C program clients share their journey through ceramic art To recognize this year’s July 28th World Hepatitis Day, Sherbourne participated in a unique art exhibit, “The Face of Our Story,” featuring clay self-portraits crafted by people living with Hepatitis C. The event was organized by the Toronto Community Hep C program (TCHCP), a joint initiative of Sherbourne Health Centre, South Riverdale Community Health Centre and Regent Park Community Health Centre, in partnership with the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art. The art display featured the craftwork of 18 participants in the TCHCP.

Clay self-portraits sculpted by TCHCP participants capture their personal struggles and triumphs of living with Hep C.

Created over a 5-week period with artists at the museum, the artworks detailed each individual’s personal experience of their Hepatitis C journey, and were accompanied by the artists’ own testimonials. The portraits also reflected underlying themes of stigma, discrimination, freedom, rebirth, resilience, and perseverance in the face of indifferent systems.

Participants in the Toronto Community Hep C program shared with event guests about their health experience and how it’s reflected in their artwork.

“Using art to tell a story, to help heal and grow, is vital to physical and emotional health care,” says Amy Muli, Outreach Worker for the Hepatitis Treatment Program at Sherbourne, who also spearheaded planning the exhibit. “The Face of our Story was an amazing experience and I am proud of everyone who helped bring this project to life.”

Installed on the third floor of the Gardiner Museum in downtown Toronto, The Face of Our Story aimed to raise awareness around disease prevention and access to testing and treatment, and was featured in a Toronto Star article titled “The tragedies and triumphs of living with hepatitis C.” The event also gave insight into the multiple barriers to obtaining health care and social services that exist for people living with viral hepatitis. The event shone a light on the community’s need for the important work of the TCHCP, which provides harm reduction based access to Hep C treatment and support in a multi-disciplinary, community-based healthcare setting. In recognition of World Hepatitis Day, The Face of Our Story was both a celebration of the artists’ personal journeys and a tribute to those whose lives have been touched by Hepatitis C.


Advancing care to trans patients

RHO launches online interactive tool for healthcare providers On November 24th, Rainbow Health Ontario (RHO) officially launched the Trans Primary Care Guide. A first of its kind in Canada, this resource is an easy-to-use online interactive map to assist healthcare providers in offering primary and transition-related care to trans and gender-diverse patients.

Director of RHO Devon MacFarlane gives opening remarks during the Trans Primary Care Guide’s webinar launch at U of T.

This inventive tool is also based on Sherbourne’s globally-used Guidelines and Protocols for Trans Clients handbook, which was first published and made widely available in 2009 and revised in 2015. “We’re extremely proud to launch this userfriendly guide,” says Devon MacFarlane, Director, RHO. “Our hope is that it will be a practical tool to assist providers in integrating trans healthcare needs into their practice, as well as a valuable resource for trans patients when advocating for their own needs.”

The Guide, developed in partnership with a University of Toronto Biomedical Communications student, provides an introduction to trans care issues, addresses common fears around providing hormone therapy, and maps out guidelines and protocols for caring for trans patients.

The Trans Primary Care Guide helps health practitioners provide better care to trans patients, and can be used to support patients’ self-advocacy.

The online map serves as a powerful means to improving care for trans people, who report a variety of negative experiences when accessing health care. Approximately half of trans Ontarians are not comfortable discussing trans issues with their doctor, and on average, Ontario doctors in training receive only 5-7 hours of LGBT-related education during 4 years of medical school. The official launch of the Trans Primary Care Guide took place at the University of Toronto, which included a live webinar demonstrating the Trans Primary Care Guide and a Q & A session for over 90 healthcare providers across Canada. A reception followed to celebrate the successful completion of this highly anticipated initiative. RHO’s Jordan Zaitzow explains how the Guide supports healthcare providers to feel more confident in caring for trans patients.


Special visits to Sherbourne Earlier this year, we were visited by two special guests who dropped by to learn more about the work being done at Sherbourne.

Laverne Cox Emmy-nominated actress, producer, writer and LGBT advocate, Laverne Cox, needs no introduction. The star of Orange Is The New Black (OITNB) stopped by Sherbourne in April for a ‘fireside’ chat with over 50 queer and trans spectrum youth of colour from SOY’s Black Queer Youth and Express groups. Laverne talked candidly about her experience growing up in Mobile, Alabama, to working her way as a server through theatre school, and the changes in her life since finding fame in OITNB. She shared insights into her activism and some of the prejudices she has stared down, even in the media.

Did you know…

Laverne Cox exchanges stories with SOY youth during her stop by Sherbourne in the spring.

What was most striking was that Laverne graciously gave space to the youth to tell their stories-so-far and share their aspirations. Talking about embracing one’s trans identity, she offered advice to youth dealing with prejudice when they come out: “Sometimes you have to let people go for a minute and go to a warm place.” For up to over 250 youth per week, SOY’s safe, supportive and non-judgmental groups are that warm place.

The Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance Minister Morneau, who represents Toronto Centre in Parliament, came for a whistle stop tour of Sherbourne on Canada Day. Minister Morneau knew about Sherbourne’s work in his riding and wanted to see it for himself.

[From left] Sherbourne’s Board Chair Ken Chan, CEO Hazelle Palmer, Minister of Finance Bill Morneau and Director of Corporate Affairs at Sherbourne Graeme Imrie pose in front of the mosaic outside Sherbourne’s entrance.

With Sherbourne’s CEO, Hazelle Palmer, and Board Chair, Ken Chan, acting as tour guides, Minister Morneau was very interested in Sherbourne’s work with the LGBTQ community, homeless and under-housed people and particularly, our services for newcomers to Canada. He congratulated the Sherbourne team for their work in the St. James Town neighbourhood and for their role in Toronto’s response to supporting Syrian refugees, through special primary care clinics and SOY Express. We look forward to welcoming Minister Morneau back to Sherbourne in the future.


A sensational day to rock ‘n’ bowl

SOY’s 17th annual Bowlathon celebrates with neon, dancing and disco balls On Saturday, October 22nd, over 100 supporters took part in the annual SOY Sensational 17th Bowlathon for a fun-filled day of cosmic bowling and to raise funds for SOY!

SOY Staff Verlia Stephens and John Caffery took to the crowds to sell tickets for the Bowlathon prize draw.

Once again Bowlerama West was filled with energy and enthusiasm as family, friends, community members and workplace teams hit the lanes for the Bowlathon, our largest and longest-standing fundraising event, which this year raised a grand total of over $47,000!

Twenty-three teams came together and the lanes were alive with vibrant colours, high-spirited energy, cheering, dancing, and flashy costumes. A photobooth captured bowlers’ perfect poses, and participants took home fantastic awards and prizes. Speeches were passionate and sentimental, including a tribute to two dynamic and beloved family members of SOY, Krin Zook and Melissa Levin, who sadly passed since last year’s Bowlathon. The contributions of these two incredible women to our queer and trans communities, and their love and dedication to SOY, were without measure. They will forever be remembered. We also honoured Leslie Chudnovsky, a sixteen year SOY veteran, by introducing the Leslie Chudnovsky Award for Fundraising Excellence. This inaugural award recognizes the top individual fundraiser, which this year was Nadeem Mansour, who raised an impressive $3,680!

Event hosts & SOY staff Clare Nobbs and Premal Laxman announce this year’s Bowlathon award and prize winners.

Thanks to everyone who made this year’s Bowlathon such a great success, and we look forward to having everyone return next year!

Workplace teams pose at the SOY photobooth as part of this year’s Bowlathon festivities.


Interested in taking part in next year’s Bowlathon? There are many ways to get involved, such as joining a team, sponsoring a youth and donating prizes. To learn more about opportunities for support, please contact Catherine at for details.

SOY Express embody the Bowlathon spirit to raise funds for newcomer queer youth

This year’s Bowlathon Team Spirit Award was given to LGBTQ Youth Matter (Express Group), a team of LGBTQ newcomer, immigrant, refugee and nonstatus youth who attend the Express program at SOY. Inspired by long-time fundraiser Lois Fine, they raised over $1,200 through personal asks to friends and family members and a bake sale. While following in Lois’s footsteps, the team raised funds to empower LGBTQ youth to thrive in the welcoming communities of SOY and Sherbourne.

The team was also featured in a Daily Xtra article, “How a bowlathon can help newcomer and local queer youth in Toronto”, to promote the event and highlight SOY’s work. The story features SOY Coordinator and former Express youth member Aamer Esmail, who discusses how Express helped him on his own arrival to Canada as a newcomer queer youth over a decade ago, and how it continues to make a difference in the LGBTQ community with its youth-led initiatives. SOY Express youth hold a bake sale at Sherbourne to raise funds for the Bowlathon.

Volunteer Spotlight

“Two years ago a family member took part in Sherbourne’s Gender Journeys. On the last night, participants got to bring a relative, friend or other loved one to hear everyone’s stories. It proved to be very powerful. It hit me how lucky my family member was to have great support through his community of family, friends and school. Many others did not. I felt I was not giving back to my community as much as I should be. Someone once told me to do something you love or that has significance to you. I kept thinking back to Gender Journeys so I looked up SOY online.


Bowlathon & Event Volunteer

Happily I was able to assist at this year’s Bowlathon. It was a really fun filled day, with a nice sense of community, kinship and caring. I plan on organizing a bowling team with my family next year! While I still work full time, I am happy to commit some time to volunteering and feel like I’m helping out in the community.”

Toronto Pearson International Airport supports SOY Express SOY Express continues to thrive, thanks to support from Toronto Pearson International Airport’s Propeller Project, a community investment program that helps neighbourhoodbuilding initiatives in the GTA. Newcomer and immigrant queer and trans youth can face complex challenges. Express provides support that has a lasting, positive impact on their lives and helps to inspire and build a community. The program functions as a weekly drop-in, where young people come together to share ideas and have fun. Additional services include direct support to assist with immigration and refugee claims.


Clients Get HAPI

Pilot initiative connects vulnerable clients with OHIP cards Carla* is homeless and has severe substance use issues. She survives by couch-surfing and selling sex, and now she is pregnant. An OHIP card is the last thing on her mind, but she needs the card to get referred for an ultrasound. For people who are homeless or under-housed, life can be extremely chaotic. Getting an OHIP card for example, is complicated if you have lost your birth certificate and have no address for the card to be mailed to. Many marginalized clients report less than respectful experiences, and may be fearful of the bureaucracy involved. In January, Sherbourne’s Family Health Team started the HealthCard Assistance Project Initiative (HAPI) to help our clients get OHIP cards, so that they can access the various health services they need, such as diagnostic tests and medical specialists. A Client Resource Worker supports clients through the process step by step, including accompanying the most vulnerable clients to the service centre to complete the process. Says Linda, a Client Resource Worker: “People often don’t even know why they need an OHIP card, so there’s an education component as well. One client hadn’t had a card in twelve years and it only became an issue because they were beaten up on the street and needed an x-ray.” There are often hidden barriers to accessing health care. HAPI is one example of how Sherbourne works to improve health for under-served communities. So far, over 90 people have been supported to get their health card.

‘Prevent the Flu’ Ambassadors Children of newcomer families may be at greater risk when they don’t yet have a family doctor. Seniors face complications from flu and may have trouble getting vaccinated due to mobility issues. As flu season approached, our newcomer health team, with six peer ambassadors, implemented their annual initiative to reach at-risk residents in St. James Town with flu shots. After a training session with Sherbourne staff, the ambassadors went into the community to spread the word about what flu is, how it is transmitted and the importance of being vaccinated. Clinics were held at our satellite location in the St. James Town Community Corner, as well as nearby Toronto Community Housing and co-operative housing locations. The ambassadors represent the rich diversity of the neighbourhood, speaking in Hindi, Tamil, Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic and Gujarati. They were also on hand during the clinics to help with clinic flow and language interpretation. Over 200 residents were vaccinated.


“Flu still causes 3,500 deaths a year in Canada. Some newcomers may not be aware of preventive health initiatives available to them. We reached residents who might otherwise have been at greater risk of complications like pneumonia, or worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as asthma and diabetes.” Sehr Athar Health Promotion and Systems Specialist at Sherbourne

TD Supports SOY Trans_Fusion Crew Sherbourne was thrilled to receive a major investment from TD Bank to Supporting Our Youth’s Trans_Fusion Crew (TFC) group for trans and gender questioning youth. TD’s support allows us to sustain and enhance the dynamic and innovative TFC group for the next three years. Meeting weekly, TFC builds confidence, inspires belonging, and encourages health and a space where trans and gender questioning youth can be their true and authentic selves. TFC fosters a space for youth to talk openly about their experiences, learn from others and be part of a community. “TD’s commitment to fostering diversity and support for LGBTQ causes is well known and the bank’s support of Sherbourne goes back some time. We are so thankful that they have increased their commitment to queer and trans health with this significant donation,” says Graeme Imrie, Director of Corporate Affairs at Sherbourne. “By supporting TFC, TD recognizes the need to support our trans community. We are thrilled to have TD’s support.”

‘Dance to Health’ Initiative Made Possible by a Generous Family From Hip Hop to Bollywood … It was with great excitement and gratitude that we launched Dance to Health, a program for newcomer youth in and around the St. James Town neighbourhood. The program aims to promote active lifestyles and mental wellbeing, in keeping with our strategic direction to enrich youth health and wellness. Studies show that physical activity levels are lower for newcomer youth. Young newcomers can face challenges dealing with a new environment and education system, and sometimes the loss of family or support networks, at the same time as all the usual stresses of growing up. Dance to Health is bringing together newcomer youth to get active and improve their mood and stress levels with their peers, with support from a Counsellor and instruction from professional dance instructor, April Nakaima. Youth ambassadors are also being trained so that the program can be sustained. This exciting initiative was made possible by a generous gift from the estate of the late Govind Patel, who was born in India and went on to become a successful businessman in Burundi. Mr. Patel’s grandson, Dipen Kalaria, who came to Canada as a young child from Burundi, is a longtime supporter of Sherbourne, including serving on our Board of Directors. Sherbourne’s work with newcomers evoked the rich, multicultural – sometimes challenged – neighbourhood of immigrants where he grew up. Along with his family, he wanted the legacy of his grandfather’s hard work to make positive change for more recent newcomers. Said Dipen, “My grandfather’s wish would have been to support newcomers such as the people accessing the fantastic services offered by Sherbourne. We are so proud to be able to make this gift in his honour.” Planned giving can make a lasting impact and ensure the communities you care about will continue to thrive into the future. If you want to discuss leaving an inspiring legacy, please contact Catherine Argiropoulos at


A delightful & delicious new campaign Sherbourne offers a festive treat for the fall season

A collection of pies were on display and ready for pickup at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

This October, Sherbourne introduced a new and scrumptious fundraising campaign called Give Thanks, With Love for SOY’s Monday Night DropIn group. In partnership with the talented pastry team at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC), over 200 apple pumpkin and pecan pies were handcrafted, festively packaged and sold just in time for Thanksgiving. This resulted in a very successful campaign that raised over $4,300 for the Drop In. We even had a shout-out by Kevin Frankish on Breakfast Television promoting the campaign!

“We were thrilled to partner with Sherbourne for the first ever Give Thanks, With Love,” says Mia Deala, Executive Pastry Chef of MTCC. “It meant so much to our team to give back in the community, especially by helping a program that focuses on supporting young LGBTQ people. We really wanted to help, and since baking is our specialty, it seemed like the perfect way for us to lend our support.” Every dollar raised from Give Thanks, With Love directly supported the Monday Night Drop-In group for homeless and under-housed youth. Each week while sharing a full dinner, up to 50 youth access housing and healthcare support, mentors, staff and a supportive community to grow resilience and confidence. The challenges and barriers queer and trans youth face, from homelessness, homophobia and transphobia to bullying and isolation, can be harsh. A warm dinner with new friends and ‘chosen family’ every week at the Monday Night Drop-In provides a life-line of support.

MTCC pastry chefs help with pie sales at the Convention Centre and Sherbourne on Oct. 7th.

“The campaign was a delicious success,” says Catherine Argiropoulos, Sherbourne’s Development Officer. “There couldn’t have been a better way to celebrate the fall holiday season than sharing a handcrafted pie with loved ones, family and friends while helping to support our queer and trans youth community.”


Thank you again to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for their generous support and to everyone who bought a pie!

Trans Health Services Expanding Last fall in a press conference at Sherbourne, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Eric Hoskins announced changes to regulations governing access to transition-related surgeries for trans people. A lot has happened since then… Sherbourne, Women’s College Hospital and CAMH formed a partnership, which was awarded $2M in new funding to improve access to care for trans people. Since then, Sherbourne has been working hard to train our providers to provide surgery planning visits for trans clients. We also renovated our Infirmary and hired new staff to open up new beds for people who are eligible, from anywhere in Ontario, to recover after transition-related surgery. Sherbourne’s Rainbow Health Ontario (RHO) program has developed a curriculum for healthcare providers across Ontario, to help them feel competent and comfortable conducting surgery planning visits. The curriculum will start rolling out across the province in the new year. At the same time, RHO has been responding to increased demand for its existing trans health training modules and weekly trans health mentorship forums. So much so, that an additional trainer has come on board to help meet the demand. In the coming months we will be hiring additional staff to provide trans clients with more mental health support and help navigating the healthcare system and other social supports.

Finding an authentic voice A new pilot group for trans women

The journey someone goes through to transition is a path with many steps, including the changing of names and pronouns, clothing and appearance. In everyday life, one’s voice also makes a defining first impression. For trans women, a ‘male sounding voice’ can start a conversation with the listener making assumptions. This can lead to transphobia, discrimination and even violence if the voice does not match the speaker’s outward appearance, and can harm self-confidence for someone in transition. Voice therapy can help modify the human voice, but is often out of reach for trans people, many of whom are unemployed or under-employed and living in poverty. In the fall, we launched a voice therapy program, The Voice Modification Group for Trans/Gender Nonconforming Clients, a free 8-week group session that assists individuals in achieving their authentic voice in a safe, nurturing environment. Facilitated by a speech-language pathologist, the program begins with an individual assessment of each client followed by six weeks of practical work, including learning resonance and pitch, volume and projection and non-verbal communication. Women learn how their sound resonates and how to physically carry themselves to accommodate their voice. The program aims to reduce major barriers for participants when seeking jobs, health care and other services, and social and relationship pursuits. By working on how they speak and becoming more conscious of speech patterns, the women can gain increased self-acceptance and confidence with their authentic voice. ­


Providing relief this winter season Have you heard? Weather forecasters predict a very cold winter with plenty of snow and ice. For homeless and under-housed people, the upcoming winter poses stark challenges. However, Sherbourne’s Rotary Club of Toronto Health Buses will be on the streets to help. Each winter, the Health Buses bring health care directly to marginalized clients in Toronto with on-the-spot care for urgent health needs. Clients can also pick up basic winter supplies, such as socks, hats, gloves, scarves, long johns, skin protection and personal hygiene supplies. The Health Buses see almost 4,000 client visits during the winter months, including stops at additional ‘Out of the Cold’ locations. Jack*, a Health Bus client, has first-hand experience of life on Toronto’s winter streets. “It was rough when it was cold,” Jack says. “You’re battling minus 30-40 degree weather and strong winds. It was bone-cold – I was freezing … I was a forgotten one. I cried many nights, many days.” The Health Bus had a significant impact on Jack’s quality of life. “During winter, the Health Bus would hand out socks, and having the socks makes a big difference. I would wear 2 or 3 pairs just to try and keep warm. I’m very appreciative of the donations to the Health Bus and to the people who donated so I could stay warm,” Jack remarks. We continue to raise support for our winter relief efforts on the Health Bus and other Sherbourne programs that help our homeless clients. One current winter campaign is the annual toque campaign with Raising the Roof. Sherbourne is selling toques, mittens and hats this holiday season, which kicked off this year at Illuminite on November 19th, to raise funds for our homeless health programs. To get involved, or to buy your Raising the Roof toque, contact Catherine at cargiropoulos@ or 416-324-4169.

Illuminite volunteers sell toques, hats and mittens at Yonge-Dundas Square on November 19th to help raise funds for homelessness prevention.

Looking ahead The Rotary Club of Toronto Health Buses have been a fixture on the streets, providing respectful on-the-spot care and health supplies for 20 years. In the coming weeks we’ll be announcing some very exciting news about the ‘next generation’ of the Health Bus. Look out for a big announcement on Twitter (@shctoronto)!

Have feedback? We love hearing from you! Email

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