Workshops and training in Vernon

October 31, 2017

A blog by Joel, Q’s Education and Training Coordinator

Vernon is a city of over 40,000 people, located on the unceded and ancestral lands of the Okanagan peoples.  Despite its size, the last functioning LGBTQ+ support group was dissolved over 10 years ago, when the volunteer group facilitator could no longer host the drop-in, after years of commitment.

In Spring of 2017 I received a call from the Family Resource Centre Society for the North Okanagan; this is an agency doing important work in the Interior to support families and new parents, people experiencing mental health and substance abuse issues, youth, and survivors of sexual trauma.

The FRCS recognized a need to create and hold space for LGBTQ2S+ youth living in Vernon and looking for a sense of connection and community.  With the best of intentions, the FRCS started a drop-in and called in extra help to ensure their staff would have the knowledge and tools to create a welcoming and affirming space for queer, trans, and Two-Spirit youth.

Over 25 youth service providers, educators and counsellors attended a 4-hour workshop hosted by me, the Education & Training Coordinator.  Over the course of the four hours, participants had an opportunity to learn about language and terminology; explore LGBTQ2S histories; build empathy for the oppression experienced by many queer, trans, and Two-Spirit folk; and construct ways in which their services and spaces can be more inclusive for anyone accessing their site.

In addition to the adult-workshop, FRCS also sponsored QMUNITY staff to facilitate a workshop for the youth who were accessing the drop-in, which gave Vernon youth the opportunity to learn more about the LGBTQ2S+ communities and how to stand up to homophobia and transphobia they see in their school hallways or other youth spaces.

Workshops and training opportunities are an invaluable resource that can lead to both incremental and profound changes in agencies, services and programs.  Integral to the success of the workshops is a firm belief in the power of education, and a commitment to hosting a dialogue where respect is paramount and very few questions are off-limits.

If you want to learn how to bring these kinds of workshops into your office or agency, shoot me an email at [email protected], and I’d be happy to learn more about your place of employment and what one of our workshops looks like in that space.

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