SA president Emily Ferguson (left) and SA's wellness and equity coordinator Quinn Blue (right) discuss pride month.
SA president Emily Ferguson (left) and SA's wellness and equity coordinator Quinn Blue (right) discuss Pride Month

Happy Pride Month, everyone! As President of the Algonquin Students’ Association (SA), I have the opportunity to share a column in the Algonquin Times each month. This month, I thought it would be appropriate to use this platform to highlight an essential part of the SA – the Wellness and Equity Centre. The Wellness and Equity Centre is a safer space on campus for all students, no matter sexual orientation, gender identity, race, disability status, or any other factors.

I’m happy to feature some words from Quinn Blue in my June column in honour of Pride Month and Indigenous History Month. See Quinn’s message here:

Happy Pride Month! I’m the Wellness and Equity Centre Coordinator, a part of your Algonquin Students’ Association focused on mental health and wellness and all equity issues that can impact that. As part of this, we celebrate Pride in many different ways! For example, we host a Campus Pride Week at the end of September, celebrate Ottawa Capital Pride at the end of August, and celebrate Pride Month in June.

Pride Month is celebrated in June to mark the Stonewall Uprising. In New York City in 1969, queer and trans people, mostly Black and Latinx, fought back against a police raid. We celebrate Pride in August to mark the 1971 “We Demand” protest in Ottawa, the first large-scale documented public protest in Canada. Pride has always been about demanding and creating a better world for all.

We celebrate all 2SLGBTQ+ people and communities, whether you are out all the time, sometimes, or never. At the Ottawa campus, I’m excited for the opening of the much-anticipated Jack Doyle Athletics and Recreation Centre – in particular for the availability of all-gender washrooms and changerooms, which will remove barriers for trans and gender diverse students. I hope this can become a model for increasing the availability of all-gender washrooms across Algonquin College campuses.

June is also Indigenous History Month. Pride and Indigenous issues are intrinsically connected, and two-spirit, indigiqueer, and queer or trans indigenous people have always been central to both of these movements.

With the discovery of the remains of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, this is also a time of reckoning with the historic and ongoing impacts of colonization and genocide. In 2015, after an extensive Truth and Reconciliation process, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada published 94 Calls to Action.

I encourage everyone to read those calls to action and engage in them actively, and ask yourself what steps or actions you can take in your own life to encourage governments and institutions to fulfil those calls to action. Unfortunately, The Yellowhead Institute found that only eight of the 94 Calls to Action have been completed over the course of five years. We can and must do better, and we all have a role to play in demanding and creating a better world for all.

* For support, please contact The Indian Residential School Survivors Society toll-free 1 (800) 721-0066 or 24hr Crisis Line 1 (866) 925-4419.