My name is Oliver, and I am a Queer youth living in Barrie. In my spare time I focus on creating artistic collages regarding political issues and being visibly Queer.
I am the founder of Generation Queer, a small group who supports other Queer folk through fun and inclusive events. In the recent past, I had the opportunity to set up and run a Gender Sexuality Alliance at a local high-school. I was involved with The Gilbert Centre's youth forum last year, and also sat on their youth council, and continue to volunteer and support Queer events put on by other organizations within the LGBTQ+ community in Simcoe County.
Nathan Ross Kup is 13 years old and lives in Minesing, just outside of Barrie. He recently graduated grade 8 and will be attending high school in September. Nathan became active in the LGBTQ community and awareness even prior to coming out as transgender. In grade 7, Nathan presented a speech to his school about trans experiences and gender dysphoria. It was the first of its kind in his small school community. The same year his Heritage Fair project submission featuring Jim Egan, Canada's first gay rights activist, won 1st place at the Simcoe County level. He was awarded the Provincial Fair Delegate award. This allowed Nate the opportunity to present his efforts in Toronto with other peers in the region who had gained recognition in their school board. Earlier this year Nathan came out to his student body through Slam Poetry. He won the competition and presented his poem at the Simcoe County School Board Office where he placed 4th in the region.
This year, Nathan has been extremely busy focusing his time on the LGBTQ community. He and 4 other peers created the youth lead "LGBT Youth Barrie". The youth lead group holds bi-weekly social meetings and events. Within the youth group, Nate created transgender care packages that help transgender youth cope with gender dysphoria. The package also provides mental health contact information.
Nathan is everything artistic. He’s a published short story writer, creates poetry, is a song lyricist, avid concert goer, sketch artist and beginner drummer! Nathan has recently created band called “AMBER ALERT” in which he is the lyricist and drummer. He and the two other band members of the LGBTQ community plan to release their first single in September of this year. If that’s not enough, Nate also co-leads an environmental activism group called "GAIA". Their goal is to ban the use of plastic water bottles in Barrie. They have been hosting clean-ups around the Barrie area since creating the group.
Keenan Aylwin is the Ward 2 Councillor for the City of Barrie and is the first openly gay elected official in Barrie's history. He is a community organizer and an activist. Since being elected, he has successfully pushed for the installation of a Rainbow Crosswalk in Downtown Barrie as well as the creation of a micro-grant program for local 2SLGBTQ+ organizations.
Keenan sits on the Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness (SCATEH) Barrie Chapter, the Poverty Reduction Task Group, the Downtown Barrie Business Association (BIA) Board, the Barrie Public Library Board, and is the Vice-Chair of the City’s Active Transportation and Sustainability Committee.
Betony Main is a teacher at Georgian Bay District Secondary School in Midland. Over her career, she has facilitated Gay Straight Alliances at Penetanguishene Secondary School, Banting Memorial High School and Midland Secondary School. She is now a staff coordinator for the GBDSS Equity Club, which focuses on providing safe spaces and advocacy for LGBTQ+ students.
Carl has been involved with the trans community for several years now. It began with attending a Gender Journeys group that didn’t want to stop meeting up. This group eventually became the transgender support group known as TransQ, which still runs weekly in Barrie today and recently started an Orillia chapter. The leader of the group saw potential in Carl and made him a facilitator. He felt at first this role might be more than he could handle, but over time he grew into it and has now been doing it for over four years. He found he enjoyed talking about his experiences and using his knowledge to help other trans people or help their family understand.
Eventually, this led to being asked to do public speaking roles, paper interviews, conferences, events, and he was even a local documentary called “Free to Be Me.” Ultimately these experiences gave him what he needed for the position he currently holds as Peer Support Navigator for Trans Health Services at the Couchiching Family Health Team. This role allows him to help other trans people with a variety of things, whether they want a support group, help with a name change, help talking to their parents, or just someone to talk to that they can relate to. Carl feels that his lived experience is the key to helping trans people get the care they need. He wants to continue this work for years to come and hopes to really make a difference.
Jessica Van de Kemp
Jessica Van de Kemp is an award-winning teacher, poet, and PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo. Her research examines gender stereotypes in drama television that reinforce rape myths to call out media that normalize sexual violence against women. A longtime resident of Bradford, Jessica is a spoken word artist deeply committed to arts-based learning. Performances of an original poem entitled “Sisters” wowed audiences at both W3 Represents (a research symposium for women-identified scholars at the University of Waterloo on February 20, 2019) and The Bradford Women’s+ Group’s International Women’s Day event (at the Bradford Public Library and Cultural Centre on March 4, 2019). Openly bisexual, she encourages expression through the arts to help keep the erasure of bisexual individuals and other members of the queer community in focus. Jessica continues to dedicate her life to making our schools and communities more safe and supportive for all LGBTQ2S+ people, but especially children and youth. A light to the world, she inspires, motivates, and empowers others as only a true educational leader can.
Capt John S. Niles MSM is the Wing Chaplain for 16 Wing CFB Borden. He previously served at The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, and 400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron. He started the CFB Borden Pride Network as a means of supporting the LGBT members at CFB Borden with the full support of his Wing Commander Col Godbout and Base Commander Col Atherton. When he began the Network over 4 years ago, it started with only himself and one other he reached out to. Since that time it has grown to over 35 members. Capt Niles has also be instrumental in having the Pride Network give guidance to the Canadian Armed Forces in Ottawa on the needs and concerns of LGBT military members. Capt Niles starts a new chapter this summer as the Network will be going National to bases and Wings across Canada as members of the Network are posted to other places and will take with them the knowledge on how to start a network. These new Networks will then link up with CFB Borden Pride Network with Capt Niles’ support and also to Ottawa.
The Gilbert Centre
The Gilbert Centre is a community-based, not-for-profit, charitable organization that has been providing programs and services as the AIDS Committee of Simcoe County for over 25 years. In 2015, in part to recognize the reality of people with HIV not developing AIDS, but living healthy lives with HIV, the organization changed its name from the AIDS Committee of Simcoe County to the Gilbert Centre for Social and Support Services. The Gilbert Centre, named after our founder Ed Gilbert, not only reflects the change in HIV, but also embraces the expansion of programming to serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender individuals and families in the Simcoe Muskoka area.
The Gilbert Centre takes a broad, social determinants approach to our work that is based in social justice, health equity and human rights. We see to engage individuals, families, organizations, institutions and communities as partners and collaborators in the work we undertake.
St. Paul's Centre and United Church
St. Paul’s Centre, home of St. Paul’s United Church, is proud to have been nominated for a Simcoe County Pride Award as Organization of the Year. As a centre for performing arts groups and worship we are striving to be a welcoming centre for all in many different ways.
St. Paul’s is becoming a welcoming space for performing arts groups as well as a centre for worship and spiritual growth. We are a vibrant and dynamic faith community seeking to understand and live the way of Jesus. Our governing values include generosity and justice, inclusiveness and open mindedness, compassion, trust and a commitment to spiritual growth and dialogue. St. Paul’s is an affirming congregation of the United Church of Canada. We see ourselves extending our over 186-year history in Orillia as a place to gather, a place to grow, a place to express our deepest hopes and fears, a place to talk, share and celebrate together.
St. Paul’s has been designated an Affirming Ministry by the United Church of Canada. Affirming Ministries seek to go beyond issues of gender diversity and sexual orientation to work for justice and inclusion for all people.
The Quoir (PFLAG Barrie-Simcoe County)
The Quoir was born out of an idea I had last summer. Through our work as Co-Facilitators of the Barrie-Simcoe County PFLAG, Loretta Fearman and I noticed that members of the LGBTQ2I community are often understandably reluctant to go out into society, and they can become reclusive. We wanted to create a need for folks to come together for a social purpose; to meet new friends and work towards a common goal in a comfortable way.
One night I called Loretta with the idea of a PFLAG choir and she was in the middle of a dinner party. Without a moment’s hesitation, she said “Yes!” and soon after we had a piano donated, space to rehearse at the Gilbert Centre and Alison Bell on board volunteering her time as accompanist.
We had our first rehearsal in April and I was absolutely blown away by the sound this choir can make! In addition, Quoir members are fast learners and excellent listeners! Soon we were doing so well and having such fun, we needed another rehearsal space, and Grace United Church came to the rescue.
Since our inception, we have been invited to sing at the Simcoe County Pride Awards Gala, Victorian Christmas at the Simcoe County Museum, The Gilbert Centre Gala, and in October, we are heading to North Bay to share a program with the Rapport Singers!
As we evolve, we will continue to sing repertoire that inspires us and offers enjoyment with a message to our audiences. We aspire to promote the message of peace and community and love. -- Jill Shipley, Director of The Quoir
Bradford Women’s+ Group
The Bradford Women’s+ Group is a safe space for women+ in Bradford and the surrounding area to invest in themselves through personal development and empowerment. The group aims to normalize conversations about gender and sexuality while creating a safe space for members to learn and reflect on their own understandings of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Additionally, The Bradford Women’s+ Group hopes to further encourage this dialogue both in and out of monthly sessions while acting as leaders for other organizations and community partners within the Bradford area.
Central Ontario Broadcasting
Central Ontario Broadcasting is a modern Canadian media company which operates in Southern and Central Ontario. Founded in 1988, Central Ontario Broadcasting independently owns and operates three radio stations: Indie88 in Toronto and Rock 95 and 107.5 Kool FM in Barrie. Along with those successful radio stations, we have proudly launched our brand new local news and entertainment portal, Barrie 360. We are a hyper local company, dedicated to super serving our communities, clients and partners. People + technology – that simple formula drives our success. Whatever the technology, be it radio broadcasting, social media, or other digital media, we always keep in mind the human component – what will excite the imagination, touch emotions, or reflect aspirations. We work with our clients and partners to discover the true consumer benefits of their product or service, and by doing so, we are able to design highly effective marketing solutions. We then combine the brand-building capability of radio broadcasting with the focus of digital media to take your message to consumers.
Four years ago, Torn Pages opened up to be a friendly little bookshop located downtown Stayner on Highway 26. At Torn Pages we sell a variety of second-hand books. We have all major genres such as Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, Science Fiction, History, War, Children, Pre-Teen, Biographies, Western, and much more. Torn Pages provides a friendly and warm atmosphere that caters to everyone!
Grounded Coffee Co.
Grounded Coffee Company opened their downtown Midland doors in 2011, and moved to their new location 538 Bay Street over a year ago to make for a larger and more accessible space. Roasting all Fair Trade and Organic Coffee on site, Grounded also supports locally produced foods in their bakery and lunch menu.
The Grounded team prides ourselves on being kind and caring, providing for a welcome environment. We have been proud to host Pride events in the past, and look forward to continuing to serve up good brew from a good crew at events in the future.
HGS Canada (Barrie)
HGS is a global leader in business process management (BPM) and optimizing the customer experience lifecycle, HGS is helping make its clients more competitive every day. We combine technology-powered services in automation, analytics and digital with domain expertise focusing on back office processing, contact centers and HRO solutions to deliver transformational impact to our clients.
Part of the multi-billion dollar conglomerate Hinduja Group, HGS takes a true “globally local” approach, with over 42,000 employees across 73 delivery centers in seven countries making a difference to some of the world’s leading brands across nine key verticals.
The HGS Barrie Contact Centre has been providing world-class expert customer service for our Canadian clients since 2013 and employ approximately 300 dedicated employees. As proud members of the community, our Work2Give initiatives have impacted thousands of local residents and is supported by a positive, inclusive culture, focused on our P3 Priorities – PEOPLE, PERFORMANCE and PASSION. We are delighted to again be associated with Pride.
Express Aid Pharmacy
Express Aid Pharmacy is a pioneer in providing LGBTQ+ focused healthcare in Canadian pharmacy practice. For just under 2 years, our two Barrie locations have provided a wide-range of specialized services providing education, care, and improving access to services to the LGBTQ+ community. As the only designated Safer Space pharmacy in the region we are proud to support a welcoming environment for all that is free of discrimination and highly accommodating. Some of our services include an on-site addiction clinic, needle exchange program, online and on-site resources, an on-site HIV prevention clinic, and an emergency HIV prevention service. Our team has specialized training in hormone medication utilized by some transgender patients as well as a specialization in HIV drug therapy. In addition to our regular day to day services, we provide outreach and education relating to addiction and LGBTQ+ health. Some examples include addiction info nights, our #JustAsk Campaign parent-youth sessions, and presenting to PFLAG parents on transgender health. Our community involvement includes taking part in local Pride events and National HIV Testing Day as well as being proud sponsors of LGBTQ+ representation such as the Pride Dragon Boat Team and the PFLAG Quoir. We are proud to be an LGBTQ+-inclusive space, and this has allowed us to educate and bring awareness on LGBTQ+ health to those who are also outside of the LGBTQ+ community.
City of Barrie
The City of Barrie is home to nearly 145,000 residents and is a large urban centre the Simcoe region. The City of Barrie is a welcoming and progressive community that has been moving forward economically, environmentally, and socially; continuing to strive for better for all residents.
The City of Barrie was the first municipality in Simcoe County to raise the Pride flag, in 2003, and has proclaimed "Pride Week(s)" and hosted a flag raising every year since. The City continues to support the annual pride week parade and activities, and has recently installed a rainbow crosswalk in the heart of downtown Barrie and created a micro-grant for anti-bullying and LGBTQ2+ initiatives. The City of Barrie was one of the very first Canadian municipalities to formally recognize Trans Day of Remembrance by raising the Trans flag, and continues to do so every year.
Various parts of City staff, as well as the Barrie Police Service, have undergone training with The Gilbert Centre to ensure that they are an inclusive and, and that all residents feel safe and welcome.
The City is and will continue to be a community for all.
Town of Innisfil
Situated just south of Barrie and about 45 minutes north of Toronto, the Town of Innisfil is a growing community with a population of approximately 37,000 people. Innisfil prides itself on having a small-town feel while offering modern amenities such as cutting-edge libraries, sports facilities and access to the beautiful Lake Simcoe. Town staff and its Council are dedicated to helping the community grow in a sustainable way to become a place that is connected physically, socially, culturally and digitally.
The Town of Innisfil is passionate about being a community that celebrates diversity and is proud to work closely with Fierté Simcoe Pride.
Reverend Dr. Cheri DiNovo
First elected into the Ontario Legislature in a by-election in 2006, she was re-elected in 2007, 2011 and 2014.
Cheri is known for her 2006-2007 $10 minimum wage campaign, through which over a million Ontarians saw their income increase by 28% over three years, and as the “Queen of tri-party bills” for tabling the most bills in the Legislature that have all three parties’ support. Cheri has also passed more Private Member’s Bills than any other MPP in Ontario’s record, and has passed more pro-LGBTQ legislation than anyone in Canadian history. Cheri was voted NOW Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Best MPP for 2016, her third time winning the title. She has also twice been voted Runner-Up Best MPP.
Cheri has been a 40+ year activist for LGBTQ issues. She was the only woman in Canada to sign the ‘We Demand’ statement in 1971—the first demand for gay rights on Parliament Hill. In 2012, Cheri succeeded in getting Toby’s Act passed, an amendment to the Ontario Humans Rights Code to include gender identity and gender expression–the first of its kind in North America. She made history again in 2015 by successfully passing Bill 77, which prohibits “Conversion Therapy” for youth (therapy intended to prevent young people from identifying as LGBTQ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual or queer]). This ground-breaking legislation also de-listed “conversion therapy” from OHIP. Following DiNovo’s introduction of the Bill, President Barack Obama called for a ban of the practice in the United States, and Manitoba tabled legislation to ban the practice as well. DiNovo has championed Parental Equality for LGBTQ parents with her Bill, Cy and Ruby’s Act. The government recently announced that they would bring in legislation and pass parental equality law by end of 2016. Cheri has also been honoured to be the Grand Marshal in Toronto’s Pride Parade.
Cheri successfully proposed a bill to fast-track benefits for workers suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). After 7 years, 4 tablings and 1 second reading, the government finally passed legislation to recognize PTSD as a workplace injury in April 2016. Similarly, Cheri is the author of the original Bill on inclusionary zoning, which gives municipalities the tools to address the affordable housing crisis. Her Bill, which tabled 5 times and passed 2nd reading twice, has the support of municipalities and organizations across Ontario. Recently, the Ontario government finally announced it was acting on inclusionary zoning. Cheri has been an outspoken advocate for cyclists and cyclist safety, including her “1-metre rule”, which the government finally passed as part of their larger transportation bill in 2015.
Cheri is an ordained United Church Minister who performed the first legalized same sex marriage. Cheri also founded Girls’ Government, a non-partisan initiative aimed at getting young girls engaged in the political process. Cheri has also been a staunch advocate for Tibetans, Roma, Ukrainian and other immigrant communities in Parkdale-High Park and Ontario.