COMMUNITY NEWS FALL 2009 EDITION
A PLACE OF REFUGE
INSIDE THIS EDITION
Gareth Henry reflects on the experience of lesbian, gay and trans refugees in Canada. When my life was threatened and death seemed imminent, I knew the only place I would want to live was Canada. Making a refugee claim was my last option for survival and Canada, one of the most progressive countries in the world, was the place that I wanted to be, a place which seeks to protect the rights of all, including gays, lesbians and trans people. In many countries, gays, lesbians and trans people have to live in fear - we experience violence, intimidation and persecution because of who we are. It is easy to understand why anyone would attempt to escape their situation and flee to another country as a refugee. I, like so many LGBT persons around the world, fled human rights abuses in my own country and chose Canada because of my faith in its immigration and refugee system. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects equal rights for all persons regardless of race, gender and sexual orientation.
Often, during Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) hearings - the place where the decision is made to accept or reject our claim for refugee status - claimants are expected to prove that they are gay, lesbian or trans. Based on how “convincing” those stories are - whether they think the claimant is “lesbian enough”, “gay enough” or “trans-enough” - often affects whether the claim is denied or accepted. After waiting for up to two years for a hearing with the IRB, a claimant hopes that the judge assigned to the case is someone
While many are lucky to find safe passage out of their country ... some never make it across their borders and are jailed or killed.
While many are lucky to find safe passage out of their country and are able to secure refugee protection in Canada, some never make it across their borders and are jailed or killed.
who understands the issues that he or she faced as an LGBT person outside of Canada—and the consequences they could face if sent home.
Arrival in Canada is not itself the end of the process for a refugee fleeing violence and hostility. Few people understand the process a refugee claimant must undertake, especially if their claim involves sexuality or gender identity.
Can you imagine fleeing your homeland, dealing with the fear and isolation of a new and unfamiliar place, and then having to prove your sexuality or gender identity to a group of strangers? Imagine what that must be like for refugees in Canada. continued inside...
Brian Konik shares his experience as a volunteer counsellor at The 519.
The AGM is approaching and The 519 is recruiting Board Members
Chris Veldhoven talks about queer parenting and growing up on the east coast.
Check out who is meeting at The 519 on our monthly calendar of events.
ABOUT THE 519 For over 30 years, The 519 Church Street Community Centre has stood as a meeting place and focal point for the creative enhancement of a healthy and vibrant community. We respond passionately to the needs of our local neighbourhood and broader lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans (LGBT) communities by providing resources and opportunities to foster self-determination, civic engagement, and support community enrichment through arts and culture and community participation.
THE NEWSLETTER TEAM Eric Berndt, Matthew Cutler, Gareth Henry, Maura Lawless, Karin Lundberg, Audra Petrulis, Janet Rowe, Helen Rykens
The 519 Church Street Community Centre 519 Church Street Toronto, ON M4Y 2C9 p: 416.392.6874 f: 416.392.0519 e: info@The519.org Registered Charity Number 11931 0761 RR0001
SOMEWHERE TO TURN Brian Konik shares his experience as a volunteer counsellor at The 519 Community Centre If you were struggling with issues in your life, where would you turn? Who would you talk to? For hundreds of people in Toronto’s downtown communities, the Counselling Program at The 519 holds an answer. A free service which offers short-term counselling support, the program is coordinated by a member of The 519 staff and facilitated by 22 volunteer counsellors. Brian Konik is one such counsellor. A Registered Social Worker, Brian volunteers with the Counselling Program one to two days a week and provides support to 4-5 individuals or couples. Participants receive up to six sessions of counselling. “I see all kinds of people at The 519” shared Brian, “some are looking for support during the immigration process and others want to talk about drug use. I’ve worked with couples and individuals affected by relationship violence or who want to communicate better. Some want to talk about coming out, others about anxiety.” As a Masters student, Brian worked with Family Services Toronto to research and evaluate the “Growing Up Healthy Downtown”, project, which is a partnership with The 519 and 7 other agencies. During that time he learned more about the work of the Centre and now that he is working full-time as a social worker he has joined The 519 as a volunteer. Brian volunteers with The 519 “because of the Centre’s reputation, its community-focus and its commitment to the LGBT community.” Brian also sees it as a good opportunity to refine his skills as a counsellor and to gain valuable experience. Most of all however, he enjoys the experience of supporting and giving back to the community.
The Counselling Program at The 519 is graciously supported by:
In 2008, 52 people received over 240 hours of counselling. Since January of this year, 22 counsellors have provided over 300 hours of free counselling
THANK YOU! I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to our team of Volunteer Counsellors! Each one of you brings your own unique qualities and experiences you all possess compassion, respect, sensitivity and understanding. This is successfully communicated to your clients each time you meet with them. I continue to be impressed by your ability to handle crises, respond with care, and engage in self-reflection to ensure the best service for your clients. It has truly been an honour getting to know all of you. I thank you for being a part of our team and look forward to continuing our work together throughout 2009! Audra Petrulis Counselling Program Coordinator
June marked a bit of a homecoming for Chris Veldhoven, Coordinator of Queer Parenting at The 519. Chris travelled to the small town of Amherst, Nova Scotia to are deliverretiring a workshopand about Queer As519’s the Annual General Meeting approaches, The Chris Veldhoven talks about Queer members Parenting to families and advocates from many nominations are openup foron new Members. Parenting and growing theBoard East Coast maritime communities.
FAMILY TAKINGMATTERS THE LEAD After serving five years on The 519’s Board, including three years as the Chair, Mathieu will be leaving the Board this year. Joan Anderson, Don Middleton and Marv Lucey will also be stepping down. Together, the four of them represent decades of contributions and dedication to the Centre and we are sad to see them leave. Their dedication to the Centre and to the community is truly inspiring and has shaped the centre and its programs. We can’t say enough how thankful we are for their contribution. “Time can pass very
transforming the Centre, andWhile in his trip was only a little over a week long, it was order to make this transformation part of a journey which began many years ago. possible, we are seeking diverse, interested and passionate Today, Chris coordinates Queer Parenting Programs at The community-minded519, people who arethe Centre’s Queer Parenting Mixer and preincluding interested in playingnatal a role onfamily the planning courses. Reflecting on his family and Centre’s Board of Management. DoChris recalls “I remember our home being like and childhood, you have what it takes? a community centre, my dads would put out hors d’œuvres and everyone was welcome. There would be discussions and As an organization resource we are sharing. It really formed my concept of community.” committed to recruiting people who represent the diversity of at The 519 is rooted in community development Chris’ work our communities. Inand particular capacity building. “It’s about embracing a healthy lifewe are seeking to increase cycle forour everyone,” he explains “we are looking for ways Afterchallenges five years on the Board, representation of women and in which wetrans can prevent future through early Mathieu Chantelois will persons who represent a cross and programming.” development complete his term as Board section of age, race, and ethnoat the AGM culturally diverse communities It is easy to see the excitement andChair innovation which flows
“I remember our home being like a quickly when there is through Chris’ veins as he talks about new opportunities and community centre, my dads would put As a policy-based Board, Thein519’s so much to do and you’re initiatives his program. Whether it’s school advocacy, out hors d’heouvres and everyone was Board of Management provides having fun doing it.” Information or enhancing the profile of bi and trans parentsSessions in our vision, leadership and oversight to welcome.“ communities, we can count exciting new developments in foronPotential Board Members organization. The 519’s Queer Parenting Programs. Mathieu Chantelois, Chris the Veldhoven Board Chair
Vacancies on the Board create the opportunity for new leadership and innovation, and it’s certainly a great time to consider joining the Board of The 519. The construction of the building is coming to a close. We are refocusing our energies and
September 9th and If you or someone you know might September 17th be interested in joining the Board from 6 to 8pm. of Managment, more information is available on our website or at This is a great opportunitiy to learn the front desk. The deadline for nominations is September 20th, more about participating in the The to celebrate 2009. The519 AGM brings will be heldin record crowds Centre as a Board Member. Pride30th in atthe Space on Church September The Green 519
BEST. PRIDE. EVER.
Were you among the thousands of people who attended our Pride celebrations in the Green Space on Church?DETACH If not, youAND missedRETURN out! COMPLETE, THIS FORM. HELP MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN OUR COMMUNITY! Over 20,000 people spent their Pride 2009 with us. Whether they were Pleaseattending completethe your information below. If your address Police Chief’s reception, unfurling our and giantother flag,contact watching information we their only need your firstor and last name. a moviehaven’t in the changed, park, getting face painted, dancing to local and international DJs one thing was certain - everyone had a great time!
DONATE TODAY! $30 helps to provide 1 hour of peer support to a newcomer in need. $50 supplies 5 meals during our Sunday Drop-In Program. $100 helps to provide 4 hours of one-to-one counselling for an individual in need. $175 enriches our neighbourhood’s children through the Family Resource Centre, which saw over 4,000 individuals in 2008.
Pride is The 519’s largest annual fundraiser and we couldn’t do it without Last Name volunteers, staff and sponors who make it all happen. A special thanks to Cineplex Entertainment, BMO, and Downtown Subaru for their generous support, to Jason Ford for his design work and to Ian Abinakle who led the Address planning process for this year’s events. First Name the
Pride 2010 will be a week later than usual andPostal we’re Province Code excited for the opportunity to once again celebrate the diversity of our community in the Green Space on Church. For photos of our Pride events, visit www.The519.org E-Mailand click “Past Events”.
A PLACE OF REFUGE continued from front page...
NOTICE OF MEETING
Canada’s immigration and refugee system is currently under review by the federal government and, as a community, it is important that we pay attention to what direction these changes might take and contribute to that dialogue. A system which provides too much discretionary power to homophobic or transphobic IRB judges could have serious consequences for those making refugee claims based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
The Board of Management of The 519 Church Street Community Centre invites you to join us for our Annual General Meeting:
Wednesday, September 30, 2009 6-9 PM (Dinner Provided) at The 519 Community Centre
At The 519 Church Street Community Centre, we work with LGBT refugees in the Among Friends Refugee Peer Support Group. As newcomers to Canada, refugee claimants seek to find a community and this group is an opportunity for persons to meet, share and connect with each other. As an organization, we benefit tremendously from the talent and expertise of refugee claimants as they form a broad base of our volunteer core.
The meeting agenda is available by contacting the Centre, or on our website and includes the election of seven members of the Board of Management. Three incumbent Directors are expected to run for re-election and there are four vacant positions.
YOU MUST BECOME A MEMBER BY AUGUST 30, 2009 in order to be eligible to vote at the meeting. (Only members living in the catchment area bound by Bloor, Parliament, Gerrard and Bay Streets are eligible to vote.)
For more information on running for the Board, voter eligibility or to become a member, visit our website or contact the Centre.
More information about the Among Friends Program, and all the ways The 519 is working with Immigrants and Refugees in our communities is available on our website, or by calling or visiting the Centre.
Copies of the 2008-2009 Annual Report will be available at the AGM.
CHURCHSTREET COMMUNITYCENTRE TELEPHONE:
416.392.6874 | EMAIL: info@The519.org
DONATION AMOUNT $25
Donate Online! www.The519.org
PAYMENT OPTIONS I have enclosed my cheque, payable to The 519 Church Street Community Centre I prefer to use my credit card. Card Number
Receipts are issued for all donations of $10 or more. The 519 Community Centre is a Registered Canadian Charity: 11931-0761-RR0001. The personal information on this form is collected in compliance with the City of Toronto Act, 2007. Any updated information is used for the purpose of processing donations and to ensure that donors are informed of events, activities and funding needs of The 519. The 519 will not trade personal information with other organizations. Questions about this collection can be directed to the Office Manager of The 519 Community Centre, 519 Church Street, Toronto, ON, M4Y 2C9 or by phone at 416.355.6772
YES! I’ll SUPPORT THE 519 Thank you for your generous donation.
FAMILY MATTERS The 519’s Chris Veldhoven talks about Queer Parenting and growing up on the East Coast
June marked a bit of a homecoming for Chris Veldhoven, Coordinator of Queer Parenting at The 519. Chris travelled to the small town of Amherst, Nova Scotia to deliver a workshop about Queer Parenting to families and advocates from many maritime communities. While his trip was only a little over a week long, it was part of a journey which began many years ago.
Today, Chris coordinates Queer Parenting Programs at The 519, including the Centre’s Queer Parenting Mixer and prenatal and family planning courses. Reflecting on his family and childhood, Chris recalls “I remember our home being like a community centre, my dads would put out hors d’œuvres and everyone was welcome. There would be discussions and resource sharing. It really formed my concept of community.” Chris’ work at The 519 is rooted in community development and capacity building. “It’s about embracing a healthy lifecycle for everyone,” he explains “we are looking for ways in which we can prevent future challenges through early development and programming.”
“I remember our home being like a community centre, my dads would put out hors d’heouvres and everyone was welcome.“ Chris Veldhoven
It is easy to see the excitement and innovation which flows through Chris’ veins as he talks about new opportunities and initiatives in his program. Whether it’s school advocacy, or enhancing the profile of bi and trans parents in our communities, we can count on exciting new developments in The 519’s Queer Parenting Programs.
BEST. PRIDE. EVER. The 519 brings in record crowds to celebrate Pride in the Green Space on Church Were you among the thousands of people who attended our Pride celebrations in the Green Space on Church? If not, you missed out! Over 20,000 people spent their Pride 2009 with us. Whether they were attending the Police Chief’s reception, unfurling our giant flag, watching a movie in the park, getting their face painted, or dancing to local and international DJs one thing was certain - everyone had a great time! Pride is The 519’s largest annual fundraiser and we couldn’t do it without the volunteers, staff and sponors who make it all happen. A special thanks to Cineplex Entertainment, BMO, and Downtown Subaru for their generous support, to Jason Ford for his design work and to Ian Abinakle who led the planning process for this year’s events. Pride 2010 will be a week later than usual and we’re excited for the opportunity to once again celebrate the diversity of our community in the Green Space on Church. For photos of our Pride events, visit www.The519.org and click “Past Events”.
GET INVOLVED with The 519! There are many ways to get involved in your community centre.
VOLUNTEER There are many opportunities to volunteer at The 519 and gain valuable experience while giving back to your community. We are currently recruiting for Community Engagement, Special Event and Information-Referral Volunteers, as well as many other positions. Contact Scott Clarke, Volunteer Coordinator 416.355.6779
DONATE Your support is vital to the Centre’s success. Send in your donation reply form in this newsletter today! We really appreciate your gift!
SIGN UP Our newsletter is now being destributed by email! If you’d prefer to receive this information online, visit our website and sign up!
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BECOME A FAN Facebook is a great way to stay on top of Centre activities, to get regular updates of our Blog and to give us feedback.
OUR COMMUNITIES MEET AT THE 519 Every year, over 160,000 visits are made to The 519 Church Street Community Centre for meetings, support groups, special events and to participate in community programming. Our regularly scheduled group meetings are listed below. For up-to-date information on centre activities, please visit our website www.The519.org, call 416.392.6874 or visit The Centre. Action Grrrlz Actors Jam Alcoholics Anonymous
2nd Saturday each month Thursdays every week Thursdays (C) every week Saturdays (O) every week Sundays (C) every week AA Rainbow Group (C) Fridays every week Among Friends Refugee Support Wednesdays every week Bisexual Women of Toronto 1st Thursday every month COLAGE 2nd & 4th Tuesday each month Coming Out Being Out Wednesdays every week Daddy, Papa & Me 2nd Saturday each month Debtors Anonymous Saturdays every week Double Recovery Group (C) Thursdays every week English as a Second Language Monday to Thursday weekly Family Resource Centre Tuesday to Friday every week Tuesdays every week Gays, Lesbians of African Descent Last Saturday every month Gratitude Roundup Committee 1st Thursday each month HOLA! Latino / Latina Gay Group 1st & 3rd Thursday each month ID Clinic 2nd, 3rd, & 4th Tuesdays Legal Advice Clinic Thursdays every week LEGIT - Toronto 2nd Thursday of each month Life Drawing Thursdays every week Meal Trans Drop-In Mondays every week Mr. Leatherman Toronto 2nd Wednesday each month Mum’s the World! Last Saturday every month Narcotics Anonymous (NA) Saturdays every week ODSP Action Coalition Last Friday every month Older Men’s Book Club 4th Tuesday every month Older LGBTTQ Resource Centre Mondays every week Out & Out New Members 3rd Tuesday each month OutWrites! 2nd & 4th Thursday each month Overeaters Anonymous Mondays every week Sundays every week Pride ACA Fridays every week Pride Uganda 1st & 3rd Tuesday every month Prime Timers 3rd Saturday each month Queer Family Mixer 1st Saturday each month Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous Sundays every week Sexual Compulsives Anonymous Fridays every week Substance Use and Being HIV+ 3rd Tuesday every month Sunday Drop-In Sundays every week Survivors of Incest Anonymous 4th Wednesday of each month Survivors of Medical Abuse 2nd Monday of each month The Space Between 1st Wednesday of every month Toronto Bisexual Network 3rd Thursday of each month Transition Support 2nd & 4th Friday of each month Trans Men FTM Support Group 1st & 3rd Friday of each month Trans Youth Toronto Wednesdays every week Triangle Squares Thursdays every week Women’s Discussion Group Mondays every week
2:00pm - 4:30pm 6:00pm - 8:00pm 12:15pm - 1:15pm 12:30pm - 2:00pm 12:30pm - 2:00pm 8:30pm - 10:00pm 8:00pm - 10:00pm 8:00pm - 10:00pm 6:30pm - 7:30pm 6:00pm - 8:00pm 10:00am - 1:00pm 10:30am - 12noon 3:00pm - 5:00pm 9:00am - 2:30pm 10:00am -1:00pm 5:30pm - 7:30pm 1:30pm - 4:30pm 6:00pm - 8:00pm 8:00pm - 10:00pm 6:00pm to 7:00pm 6:30pm to 8:00pm 7:00pm - 10:00pm 8:00pm - 10:00pm 6:00pm - 10:00pm 8:00pm - 10:00pm 10:00am - 1:00pm 3:00pm - 5:00pm 1:00pm - 3:00pm 6:00pm - 8:00pm 1:00pm - 6:00pm 6:30pm - 7:30pm 8:00pm - 10:00pm 6:00pm - 10:00pm 10:30am - 12noon 6:30pm - 8:00pm 8:00pm - 10:00pm 1:20pm - 4:00pm 10:00am - 1:00pm 2:30pm - 4:30pm 6:30pm - 7:30pm 6:00pm - 8:00pm 10:00am - 3:00pm 6:30pm - 8:00pm 8:00pm - 10:00pm 8:00pm - 10:00pm 8:00pm - 10:00pm 7:30pm - 10:00pm 7:30pm - 9:30pm 5:00pm - 9:00pm 7:00pm - 10:00pm 8:00pm - 10:00pm
The quarterly community newsletter of Toronto's 519 Community Centre