OUTSaskatoon is committed to addressing racism in a bold way through working with our community to speak out against injustice, envisioning new ways of supporting, caring for, and healing our community outside of institutionalized policing, and implementing bolder education and support services that champion Saskatoon's QTBIPOC community. As the uprising resulting from the deaths of George Floyd, Breona Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless others have brought further attention to systemic racism and police brutality in America and throughout the world, OUTSaskatoon is taking a public stance to uphold the message of Black Lives Matter and take actions to end systemic racism for Black, Indigenous, and racialized peoples.
In speaking to the events in the United States, our own national and local history must be addressed regarding the treatment of Indigenous, Black, and racialized people within Canada’s colonial system. The Canadian state was built on violent policies of colonization, including land dispossession and genocide. In Canada, The RCMP and other justice systems were created to enforce the violent will of the state onto Indigenous peoples. This system has not changed. By acknowledging that these systems were built to protect the interests of a white settler, cisgender, and heterosexual society we can meaningfully work together to recenter the voices that have been deliberately pushed to the margins.
Further, we acknowledge our own history as an organization that had little engagement with Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour when we were incorporated as Gay and Lesbian Health Services (GLHS) in November, 1991. We held our first Two Spirit group on September 9th, 1994 (“Celebrating a History of Diversity,” 2005, 43), but it was many years before we built meaningful and reciprocal relationships with Two Spirit people and communities in order to support our current cultural work. As we learn together, we continue to unpack our colonial and settler histories and in recent years we have put these learnings in to action through hosting and meaningfully investing in a broad range of cultural activities including Powwow’s, feasts, round dances, Ramadan celebrations and more. We have worked diligently as an organization to fully understand intersectionality and its role in ensuring that our programs and services truly reflect the 2SLGBTQ community, and most importantly we recommit to doing this work in an even more intentional and radical way.
As Angela Davis says:
“I have a hard time accepting diversity as a synonym for justice. Diversity is a corporate strategy. . . . Diversity without structural transformation simply brings those who were previously excluded into a system as racist, misogynist, as it was before.” (March 27, 2018)
As an organization and as part of a larger 2SLGBTQ community, we aim to move beyond surface level impacts to structural transformation, such as eliminating practices and policies that uphold racist and discriminatory values. As Bacchi and Eveline state “policies do not simply ‘impact’ on people; they ‘create’ people” (2010, 52), including their social locations, and access to power and resources (Hankivsky, O. (Ed.). (2012, 8)). As a result, we must fight against all forms of oppression, ensuring that we are helping to ‘create’ a community that is intersectional, equitable, and accessible. Our commitment to creating engaged employees, volunteers, and community members reaches further than our own internal policies as we engage with various levels of government to make brave changes for the 2SLGBTQ community, and particularly for QTBIPOC people.
As we write this today, our relationships with the Saskatoon Police Services (SPS) and the Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP) are under review. Community engagement and consultations are being planned so that we can ensure our community is leading the way. Once consultations are complete, outcomes will be shared with the community.
In this work our grounding principle is:
Ensure that Queer & Trans Black, Indigenous, Peoples of Colour (QTBIPOC) are leading our steps forward
“Call to Conversations” facilitated by QTBIPOC people
(resourced by OUT)
- Development of a QTBIPOC working group
- “Call to Conversations” facilitated by QTBIPOC people
Our current actionable goals are:
Actionable work on the ground
- Clear Black Lives Matter support posts on social media
- Building community-led education/programming
Policy and practice work within OUTSaskatoon that can change immediately
- Supporting march attendance with inclusive activist policies
- Policy that we do not call the police on folks in the drop in who are experiencing mental health crisis, we use our de-escalation skills first, and mobile crisis as a backup. If police are called, they are accompanied by an OUT staff during the encounter.
Staff Education with on going learning and Professional Development
Actionable and accountable education on the following topics provided by partner organizations:
- Lateral violence
- Hidden biases
- Anti-racism work
- PART or specialized de-escalation training
- Onboarding of staff will further anti-racism knowledge
- Staff working through Me and White Supremacy book
- Monthly anti-racism PD sessions for all staff.
- Actionable and accountable education on the following topics provided by partner organizations:
Support Groups Education
Actionable and accountable education on the following topics:
- Hidden biases
- Anti-racism work
- Lateral violence
- Actionable and accountable education on the following topics:
Actionable and well accessible educational opportunities
- De-escalation, human rights, caring for each other (community care)
- Lateral violence
- Your rights within The Justice System
- Workshop series in partnership with Saskatoon Anti-Racism Network
- Actionable and well accessible educational opportunities
- Staff Education with on going learning and Professional Development
Community Meetings and Collaborations
- Meeting with Saskatoon Police Services Chief of Police Troy Cooper.
- Facilitate a series of community gatherings online or in-person (i.e. small scale, outdoors) to share, support, and strategize anti-racism work - See grounding principles above
- Call on community members to create an OUT QTBIPOC working group - see grounding principles above
Long term planning
- Share our newly developed strategic plan on our website - identifying our anti-racist and intersectional work clearly. OUTSaskatoon’s 2020 AGM is slated for August 26th and will be publicly available.
Revisiting our strategic plan annually in order to amplify and expand this work on an ongoing basis while sharing updates on public platforms.
Examples from 2020-2025:
- “Support cultural awareness and diversity within the 2SLGBTQ and wider community (1) Work towards reconciliation and decolonization (2) Provide intersectional programs (3) Address misogyny, racism, ableism, and other structural inequities alongside and transphobia, biphobia, and homophobia"
- Examples from 2020-2025:
Bacchi / Eveline: