Volunteer Elianne Roy explains LGBTQ resources to Algonquin College student Connor Sunderland. Photo credit: Kit Gervais

To kick off the Students’ Association’s Pride Week, volunteers organized booths full of resources for LGBTQ students on Sept. 25.

Between overflowing pamphlets and business cards, one booth had a spinning wheel for Pride-themed prizes: rainbow print Algonquin Wolves jerseys, Skittles and rainbow stickers.

“It’s kind of a fun, interactive thing for students who can come on by and check it out,” said bachelor of commerce student and volunteer Matteo Mongroo.

Students attending the event in the Student Commons said it helped remind them there is somewhere they belong at the college, especially in light of the protests against LGBTQ rights across Canada.

“Yeah, quite frankly, it’s scary. I mean, hearing about the counter-protests, it’s comforting in some capacity,” said applied museum studies student Connor Sunderland, who uses any pronouns.

“Having resources like this can help alleviate some of the fear, people are still looking out for you.”

The event offered many different services, mostly about physical and mental health, and shone light on resources for LGBTQ people outside of the campus community.

One booth in support of the Bruce House, which provides housing and support for those living with HIV, was placed right next to the table handing out at-home HIV testing.

“Our clientele has actually grown so much because of the dire need for (it), like it used to be housing, but now it’s also food and then mental health services, addiction services and even getting in contact with like social services,” said Bruce House receptionist Grace Kelly-Gorman.

She said the goal of coming to the college is to recruit new volunteers, specifically younger students who’ve had a better education on LGBTQ people and are willing to help out.

Other booths took up a more lighthearted space with inclusive clubs — rugby and running.

A volunteer with the Pride Fair, Vanessa Bruneau, and their booth-mate, Leena King, were advertising an inclusive rugby team, the Ottawa Wolves RFC, for anyone wanting to join.

“There’s only five teams in Canada in total that are part of that organization. So we accept anybody who wants to play, regardless of your body size, your sexuality or gender,” said Bruneau.

“Rugby is also a sport that is inclusive to start with because you need different body types to fill positions.”

The running group table, hosted by volunteers Vincent Lemay and Jose Mari Perez, provided an extensive description of the club’s activities like women-specific runs on Friday nights and all-around interest in running, regardless of identity. Anyone wanting to participate is welcome to join the Front Runners Ottawa.

“I think it’s important to show that we are present in our in everyday life and to showcase that we are part of the community, you know, the fabric of this city,” said Perez.

Students can access resources through the college health services for domestic students or WeConnect for short-term therapy sessions. Anyone interested in group resources can head over to the Student Commons for Spill the Tea to have sexuality-specific chats or enjoy other therapeutic activities.