2016 Nominees & Recipients
Person of the Year
Chris Sheridan, Recipient
Chris went back to high school in 2009 and graduated in 2010 as Valedictorian. Spending the next four years volunteering in the community, he learned that he had a passion for making people happy with food. He enrolled at Georgian College in January 2014, taking Culinary Skills. During this time he was Secretary of Georgian Pride as well as the Social Media Director of the Junior Muskoka and District Chef’s Association. Chris worked hard to connect the love of food with fundraising efforts for Georgian Pride after succeeding in Culinary Skills. Following his first program, Chris moved into the Culinary Management Program. Having mental illness, he separated the second year of his program into two separate years. This allowed for Chris to dedicate his time to Georgian Pride as VP and the Junior Muskoka and District Chef’s Association as VP. Chris was recently promoted to President of the Junior MDCA and was invited to the Canadian Culinary Federation Conference in Windsor, Ontario. Chris has dedicated the majority of his free time student groups, as well as giving back to his community by volunteering. He is currently in a co-op semester, in which he has been donating his time and efforts to the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Barrie Native Friendship Centre, and Simcoe County Family Connexions. Chris is also a regular volunteer for Bell Let's Talk, drawing from his own experience with mental health. He is honoured to be nominated for the award of LGBT Person of the Year and is humbled.
Carl is a 26 year old Trans man from Coldwater, Ontario. Originally from Midland, Carl started his transition journey 3 years ago. Since embracing his true identity Carl has become very active in the local LGBTQ community. He started by attending Gender Journeys through the Gilbert Centre of Barrie, and continued to go to the TransQ drop in group. He has become one of the Facilitators for the group and the main facilitator for the Mens group. Carl has been a guest speaker in various workshops around Simcoe County, including the most recent Suicide Prevention Conference of Simcoe County and a group Parents of LGBTQ Children. He always tries to make himself available for questions from parents, others from his community, and anybody who's well-meaning that wants information. Carl looks forward to a future of continued work with his local community.
Youth of the Year
Brody Lange, Recipient
Brody is a full-time student in the Office Administration - Medical program at Georgian College on the Barrie Campus. He is the President of Georgian Pride on campus and strives to create the college a safe and inclusive space. He has helped to organize two Pride Weeks for the college while also fighting for LGBTQ Inclusive projects such as Gender Neutral Washrooms on campus. He attended the Fierté Canada Pride Conference in London, ON in February to open his mind to some of the challenges that still face the LGBTQ community. He has made positive connections throughout the community through Simcoe Pride and The Gilbert Centre and hopes to be able to work on some projects out in the community. He is currently working on a committee that is striving to create the entire college an LGBTQ-inclusive college as well as hoping to be able to attend the Fierté Canada Pride Conference in Halifax in 2017.
Bianca created and ran the GSA at Nantyr Shores when in grade ten. Since then the GSA has grown and put on events to honour days such as Trans Day of Remembrance and Day of Pink. Bianca, along with the GSA, also worked with the principle to get a gender neutral washroom and to re-evaluate the strict dress code that was in place. Bianca briefly worked with the school's social worker and helped students come to terms with their sexuality/gender identity,working with them and answer any questions that they might have. Bianca also ran a workshop on Grade Eight Day that talked about tolerance and helped to educated the new students on words and behaviour that wasn't acceptable. Bianca was also a mentor at The Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity's GSA forum. Bianca is grateful for the support and dedication of the administration at Nantyr and for the support of friends and peers.
Johnston Photography, Recipient
Johnston Photography opened its doors to Simcoe County in early April 2016. The owner and operator, Courtney Johnston, has been perusing photography as a passion for several years, and is continuously improving her work. Johnston Photography strives to capture the special moments in a persons' life from the clients first birthday, to the life changing moments and everything in between. Johnston Photography specializes in newborn, children, family sessions and LGBTQ+ posing.
Ciboulette et Cie
Ciboulette et Cie is a take-home foods shop, café and bakery located in Midland that serves lunch, house-made baked goods, main courses and sides that feature local foods. They are focused on locally produced food and sustainability, as well as providing a warm and inviting family friendly environment. Ciboulette hosts monthly Coffee Meets on the third Wednesday of each month, offering a space for the LGBT community and allies to come together.
Camel Trails believes that our body is our canvas. A place where we can capture those most important moments in our lives so we can cherish and celebrate them long after they have passed. Cassitty's mission is to provide an environment that is calm and comfortable, sometimes even funny and inspiring: "As together we create that addition you will carry with them in body and spirit for the rest of their lives." Camel Trails is about relationships, memories, individuality, acceptance all rolled into moments... that we wear!
Casa Cappuccino is a delightful café in downtown Barrie offering a variety of tasty pastries, breakfast and lunch items, as well as an assortment of hot and cold beverages to enjoy while reading a book or the news, or catching up with friends. With friendly staff and a delicious menu, Casa Cappuccino has the perfect café selection. Casa regularly supports community initiatives, such as Pride's annual toy drive, and provides a safe space for groups to come a meet.
Positive Community Organization
Huronia Transition Homes, Recipient
Huronia Transition Homes
Huronia Transition Homes (HTH) is dedicated to ending all violence against all women. We acknowledge there is a multitude of ways that violence manifests itself in women’s lives, and we work towards understanding the realities faced by the diverse women we serve. For the last twenty-two years we have been committed to speaking out against injustice, and violence, including the injustice and violence faced by LGBTQ2S community. We have organized awareness events such as the “Opening Closets Conference”, celebrated in Pride events, and mourned at vigils. Our passion for equality shapes the framework of our service delivery and organizational policies, including our hiring practice which encourages diversity, giving priority to women who represent the diverse communities we serve. We are proud to say that our workplace and all of our programs operate within a positive space environment.
Georgian Pride (rebranded from Pride at Georgian in the fall of 2014) stems from a line of LGBT student groups that has existed at Georgian College since 2009. It is committed to promoting and creating a safe and inclusive environment for all people, whether students, alumni or the outside community. Georgian Pride achieves this through partnerships, and various educational and social events including their annual, on-campus, Pride week. They have also helped to coordinate events such as: a peaceful protest to end the ban on MSM blood donation, "Genderbread" Day, Bisexual Awareness Week, Trans Day of Remembrance, and most recently a vigil to honour the attack on Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. With continued support from students, community partners, and Georgian College, Georgian Pride continues to pave the way for LGBT inclusivity at Georgian College.
BWG Diversity Action Group
The BWG Diversity Action Group's vision is a community which recognizes and values the uniqueness of each individual and their culture. Our group is always looking for opportunities to partner with various cultural groups or individuals in BWG. When we embrace cultural uniqueness of an individual or groups, we create an environment of respect and inclusion. Which we feel is key for a peaceful and an understanding community. Hopefully through our initiatives, we can move a bit closer to that goal each year. The Action group is always planning future programming and events to recognize all forms of diversity and create an environment of inclusivity and acceptance. We invite the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury community members to be part of our group and join the movement. We would love to have as many representatives from various communities in BWG in our group.
For more information or to inquire about joining the action group, please email DiversityinBWG@gmail.com. Also like us on Facebook at BWGdiversity and follow us at twitter @diversityinBWG.
Tribute Award: Positive Community
Town of Midland, Recipient
Town of Midland
Midland is a community of some 16,700 residents on the shores of Georgian Bay. Our citizens greatly value the lifestyle diversity in our area and having the opportunity to meaningfully engage members of the LGBT community. Midland Council actively supports the LGBT community and encourages all citizens to become part of the constructive dialogue of mutual understanding and acceptance
Township of Tiny / Canton de Tiny
Tiny is an environmentally focused, diverse family of communities providing a healthy lifestyle for its residents and visitors alike. Their Guiding Principles encompass the environment, culture and heritage, recreation, our shorelines and municipal administration. Tiny's picturesque Township is located in the Southern Georgian Bay area and boasts some of the most beautiful trails and beaches in the region. They are a culturally diverse community with a strong Francophone influence which adds to our rich heritage. Tiny's population is approximately 10,784, but as a popular destination for tourism and cottagers, we see our population double to approximately 20,000 over the summer months. They are home to the Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area; Ontario's first provincially owned and managed wetland. It offers visitors year-round use of 600 hectares of marsh and 300 hectares of field and forest. Residents and visitors can also take advantage of Awenda Provincial Park, set on the beautiful shores of Georgian Bay, for camping, hiking, and cross-country skiing.
Town of New Tecumseth
New Tecumseth is a strong supporter of the LBGT community and maintains a friendly, healthy, family-oriented, community based quality of life for all residents through safe and inclusive facilities, programs and policies supported by excellence in culture and recreation facilities and urban amenities. Pride was first proclaimed by the Mayor of New Tecumeth in 2013 and has continued to be proclaimed each year since with a flag raising (an again on July 29th, 2016 to proclaim this year’s Pride in New Tecumseth). Recently the Mayor also authorized the lowering of the flags at Town facilities in honour of the victims of the Orlando Florida night club attack including the lowering of the Rainbow flag at the New Tecumseth Administration Centre. In 2014, Councillor Michael Beattie was elected to New Tecumseth Council becoming the Town’s first openly gay man elected to Council and has been a strong advocate for the LGBT community both in New Tecumseth and across Simcoe County.
Honourary Award for Activism and Leadership (Recipients)
Bio coming soon...
Marlene has been a long time resident of Simcoe County where she lives with her Wife, Wendy. They live in a very active household that includes Oscar Wilde The Cat and three English Bull Terriers, Cora, Oliver and Elliott. Marlene has been a long-time advocate for Simcoe County's LGBTQ Community, focusing her work on social justice and equity, increased access of health and social services, collaboration between groups and systems, and the creation of safe spaces, particularly for LGBTQ children and youth. Marlene's LGBTQ inclusion and social justice work over the years has included the LGBT Youth Line, Toronto Women's Bathhouse Committee, Community-Based Research Projects and the Simcoe Muskoka LGBTQ Network. Marlene Co-Authored the Simcoe County LGBT Youth Needs Assessment Report in 2012 and is a contributor to Queering Social Work (1st Edition), for a Co-Authored Chapter entitled "Moving Simcoe County from Queerful to Queerious", Currently, Marlene works full-time as the Provincial Coordinator with Ontario Association of Interval & Transition Homes and is a Board Member with Simcoe Muskoka Family Connexions.
Ligaya has been an active member of LGBTQ organizing across the province of Ontario for the last 30 years. In this time Ligaya has been awarded Woman of the Year for her work in LGBTQ organizing in Windsor, Ontario. While living in Windsor Ligaya hosted a weekly radio show, LesBiQ Airwaves, focused on spoken word and community news specific for the LesBiGayTrans Windsor community. Ligaya started her career in HIV/AIDS volunteer work, front-line, management and research. Ligaya has served on various community boards including local the AIDS Committee of York Region, Huronia Transition Homes, United Way of Greater Simcoe Region and currently the OSMH LGBT Task Group. Ms. Byrch and her colleagues await the launch of a chapter in a book focused on Social Work and the LGBT community. Finally, Ligaya was one of the founding members of the LGBT Network while working at the BCHC. This work was then revived by Marlene Ham during her social work placement. As part of Ligaya's graduate social work placements she helped to create the founding documents required for the establishment of the My House a program for LGBT Youth in York Region and an education series on Trans people for Waypoint's Transitional Aged Youth Program. Ligaya is thankful for the honour and congratulates her colleagues who were also being recognized.
Gerry's passion is to help those individuals fighting against stigma. Whether it’s because of their HIV status, gay, a senior or just weird; it’s truly about making a difference in peoples’ lives. He worked with seniors during his university years (1983- 1986) and witnessed the ageism and stigma that seniors faced each and every day. This led him to accept the position as the executive director of the AIDS Committee of Simcoe County in December of 2003. During the 12 plus years following he has seen the AIDS Committee grow from two staff to 9 staff along with several placement students. He is very proud to have been a part of the rebranding process which saw the name change from the AIDS Committee of Simcoe County to the Gilbert Centre for Social and Support Services in July of 2015. The Centre which serves and supports those individuals who are HIV positive and at risk also added new programming that includes services and support to the LGBTQ , Youth and the Gender Diverse communities. Gerry is the Board Chair of the John Howard Society of Simcoe Muskoka and on the Provincial Board of the John Howard Society of Ontario. Gerry holds a Board executive position as the Secretary for the Canadian AIDS Society. Within all of these varied roles; they have allowed him to influence and to assist in bringing about policies that may see change within our communities in being more accepting and less stigmatizing.