Support and services for 2SLGBTQIA+ are steadily growing in and around Thunder Bay and the Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre is working to ensure that the city’s 2SLGBTQIA+ youth have a space where they can go and hang out as well as see what other kinds of services are available to them.
“It’s a hangout program designed for IndigiQueer 2SLGBTQIA+ youth between the ages of 14 and 19, so it’s giving them a place to be themselves, allowing them to share space with others in a safer environment,” said Youth of Life promotions officer Julia Elliott.
The program will offer snacks and food as well as providing other activities that will be decided on by the youth participating in the program, but mainly the intent of the program is to ensure those 2SLGBTQIA+ youth have a safe space where they can be themselves and connect with other youth.
“Right now we do have some pretty rad puzzles picked out that are different pride flags for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, things like that will be kind of our ice-breaking activities,” Elliott said.
“I’ve done programs in the past where usually on the first day we discuss our likes, our dislikes so that everybody feels like they have a voice in what they want to do, so, if there’s something they haven’t tried before, sometimes it’s trying that activity, just really opening up the floor to what interests them and what intrigues them.”
Robyn Kakegamic, the Indigenous Two-Spirit & LGBTQ+ mentor provides support and services to the gender and sexuality diverse people in Thunder Bay and is hoping to be able to introduce individuals in Thunder Bay to services that are offered through the mentor program.
“My program is mainly about indigenous youth, children, and adults too, and I help raise awareness for two-spirit individuals in Thunder Bay who don’t really have a space to go to, and I provide them with the support and care that they need,” Kakegamic said,
Along with giving 2SLGBTQIA+ youth a safe space to hangout, another goal of the program is to connect 2SLGBTQIA+ youth to supports and services available through the Indigenous Friendship Centre like their mentor Kakegamic, as well as promoting peer to peer empowerment.
“Another reason why a few of us have gotten together to explore this type of hangout is to highlight our 2S mentor in our program, and to share awareness and resources within ourselves, and to create safer spaces, not only within our community but within our allies that surround us,” said Jae Doma, sexual and gender equity liaison worker.
“And by creating space, doing art, and really just having something to do that’s exciting and super rad, where we can kind of just explore, not only who we are, but, who we are as a group of people, and having really cool peer to peer type of empowerment moments.”