The Board of the Queer Yukon Society joins our LGBTQIA Muslim community members, their families/communities, and our friends and neighbours to grieve and condemn the murder of the Afzaal family in London, Ontario last week. We are witnessing growing waves of Islamophobic, anti-Asian, transphobic, antisemitic, and otherwise bigoted violence, often encouraged by hate speech online and given cover by political rhetoric in Canada and elsewhere. We know systemic change is needed, and we call on our governments to take the actions necessary to stop the spread of hate and violence online.
In the face of violence and prejudice, it is essential that people feel they can find community and comfort without hiding important parts of themselves. Queer Yukon condemns all forms of Islamophobia within the LGBTQIA2S+ community, and we stand by our Code of Conduct for Queer Yukon spaces and events. We invite our community members to attend Queer Yukon’s Bystander Intervention Training (free, online) on June 23rd and to educate themselves on how to recognise and effectively intervene when harassment, from microaggressions to violence, is taking place.
Although intolerance towards marginalized communities takes various forms, it affects us all as marginalized people. We are never safer than when we stand together, and we are never more effective than when we act in solidarity.
Resources (these resources are not affiliated with Queer Yukon Society):
Dear QYS community members,
As we celebrate Pride this month, we want to recognize that June is also Indigenous History Month, and June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples Day. This is an opportunity for us to celebrate and honour the Two Spirit people in our communities, and those who have called Yukon home since time immemorial. Although we are holding off on in-person events right now, we look forward to gathering to celebrate our Two Spirit community with you when we can safely do so.
In addition, this June we mourn the 215 children whose bodies were found at the site of a residential school on Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc territory (Kamloops, BC). As of this writing, remains have also been found at the site of a residential school on the territory of the Muskowekwan First Nation in Saskatchewan, and 104 more potential graves identified at a former residential school on the territory of the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation in Manitoba. We need to believe survivors when they tell us we can expect more will be found as searches continue, including here in Yukon.
This has been a jarring reminder of past trauma and ongoing colonialism for many Two Spirit and Indigiqueer people and their communities. Like people and organizations across the country, Queer Yukon Society is taking this discovery as a call to action; to recommit and dig deeper into decolonizing our organization, to ensure Two Spirit and Indigiqueer people feel welcome and supported as their whole selves, and to continue to learn about the history and effects of colonialism, and to encourage our non-indigenous members/community to do the same. In addition to recognizing this time of mourning at our Pride events, we are encouraging our LGBTQIA2S+ community to donate to CAIRS (the Committee on Abuse in Residential Schools), which provides counselling services to survivors and to their families, and we will be providing a donation link or physical donation jar at Pride events through the end of the month and whenever they are rescheduled.
The Board of Directors is committed to incorporating the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in our strategic plan and programming, and supporting the implementation of Yukon’s MMIWG2S+ Strategy and the 2021 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan. We encourage our members -- especially those who are non-Indigenous -- to join us in reviewing these reports and holding our governments, and ourselves, accountable to the needs of our Indigenous and Two Spirit community members. In Yukon, residential schools were operated by the Catholic, Anglican and Baptist churches with funding from the federal Indian Affairs Branch, and we urge all denominations and levels of government to account for their roles in this genocidal system and to make appropriate amends. Queer Yukon additionally joins the call from Indigenous communities across Canada for Pope Francis to apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system, as the only denomination which has not already done so.
We are committed to listening to our Two Spirit and Indigiqueer community members and to ensuring those voices are reflected throughout the organization. We encourage you to bring your ideas, inspiration or concerns to the Queer Yukon Board of Directors (email@example.com) at any time.
If you are in distress or need a listening ear, these resources may be helpful (these resources are not associated with Queer Yukon Society):
In light of the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Whitehorse, Dawson City and Watson Lake, the Yukon Pride Month organizing team has made the difficult decision to modify, postpone, or cancel our in-person events across the Yukon. This includes a postponement of the Dawson City Pride Festival, Watson Lake Pride events, and all in-person Whitehorse events.
Queer Yukon’s online events will continue to take place as scheduled, including:
Please visit www.YukonPride2021.com for more information on how to register and attend these upcoming events.
Our organizing team is currently working on making a modified plan for the Flashy & Trashy Cabaret, and shifting our Pride Picnic to a food pick-up event. The in-person book launch by Ivan Coyote is being organized by the Yukon Arts Centre - for any updates on this event, please visit: https://yukonartscentre.com/ The dates, times and other details for postponed events will be announced as soon as they are available.
This year, Yukon Pride Month celebrations focused on bringing the community together, supporting one another and creating spaces where we all belong. As such, we have taken a cautious approach to our community organizing in order to take care of ourselves and each other during this difficult time. We want all LGBTQIA2S+ Yukoners to know that there are ways to connect with community online and that we will be here when it’s safe to gather again. Although we can’t be together right now, please know that you’re not alone!
There are still many ways folx can celebrate Pride:
Duane Gastant' Aucoin, Vice Presidnet for Queer Yukon Society asked us to share this story.
To honour the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were recently found at a former residential school in BC, Duane helped to organize a memorial in Pembroke, Ontario, where he currently resides. Duane purchased one blue and one pink pair of shoes. When Duane was placing the shoes on the Cathedral steps, he ended up placing the blue and pink shoes together in a pair. Duane said, "I was going to change them until I realised that this was for the 2-spirit children who never made it home!"
To learn more about Duane's story and the memorial he helped organize, please visit:
Duane also made a video you can watch by clicking the button below.
*** La version française suit ***
May 5, 2021
MLA, Copperbelt North
Leader, Yukon Party
Sent via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Currie Dixon,
RE: Addressing Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia in the Yukon Party
Queer Yukon Society was deeply disturbed and profoundly disappointed to learn of recent comments made by Yukon Party MLAs about their own colleagues. In addition to being a form of bullying and harassment, jokes about “women with penises'' are blatantly transphobic. These comments and their focus on an individual’s genitalia are not only rude - they are dehumanizing and promote a dangerous culture of transphobia in the Yukon. We are deeply disappointed to see Yukon Party MLAs and their supporters attempt to demean and humiliate anyone with lewd references to our community.
The 2021 Yukon Party Platform promised a “bold vision” and “new thinking” for the Yukon and we want to see that applied to your party’s work on addressing homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. These words from Wade Istchenko and Stacey Hassard were a betrayal of campaign promises to “stand for and represent all Yukoners” and a betrayal of the trust and hope we had for a better Yukon Party. When we surveyed political parties on LGBTQIA2S+ issues during the campaign, the Yukon party committed to “show leadership to ensure that we build a more inclusive Yukon by seeking the views and respecting the input of [our] community.” We are therefore calling on the Yukon Party to give us “Action for a Change” when it comes to addressing homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.
Queer Yukon Society is specifically calling on the Yukon Party to take the following actions:
In 2021, we are profoundly disappointed to find elected officials who are more concerned with an individual’s genitals than with their ideas, passion for community, or integrity.
Mona Luxion (They/Them)
Queer Yukon Society Board of Directors
Le 5 mai 2021
Député territorial, Copperbelt North
Chef du Parti du Yukon
Envoyé par courriel : email@example.com
Cher Currie Dixon,
OBJET : Lutte contre l’homophobie, la biphobie et la transphobie au sein du Parti du Yukon
La Queer Yukon Society a été profondément troublée et déçue d’apprendre les récents commentaires faits par des députés du Parti du Yukon au sujet de leurs propres collègues. En plus d’être une forme d’intimidation et de harcèlement, les blagues sur les « femmes avec un pénis » sont manifestement transphobes. Ces commentaires et l’accent mis sur les organes génitaux d’une personne ne sont pas seulement grossiers — ils sont déshumanisants et favorisent une dangereuse culture de la transphobie au Yukon. Nous sommes profondément déçu·e·s de voir les député·e·s du Parti du Yukon et leurs partisan·e·s tenter d’avilir et d’humilier quiconque en faisant des références lubriques à notre communauté.
La plateforme 2021 du Parti du Yukon promettait une « vision audacieuse » et une « nouvelle façon de penser » pour le Yukon et nous voulons que cela s’applique au travail de votre parti pour lutter contre l’homophobie, la biphobie et la transphobie. Ces mots de Wade Istchenko et Stacey Hassard sont une trahison des promesses de campagne de « défendre et représenter tous les Yukonnais·es » et une trahison de la confiance et de l’espoir que nous avions d’un meilleur Parti du Yukon. Lorsque nous avons interrogé les partis politiques sur les questions relatives aux personnes LGBTQ2+ pendant la campagne, le Parti du Yukon s’est engagé à « se poser comme meneur pour s’assurer que nous construisons un Yukon plus inclusif en recherchant les points de vue de [notre] communauté et en respectant notre contribution ». Nous demandons donc au Parti du Yukon « d’agir pour le changement » lorsqu’il s’agit de s’attaquer à l’homophobie, la biphobie et la transphobie.
La Queer Yukon Society demande spécifiquement au Parti du Yukon de prendre les mesures suivantes :
Mona Luxion (iel)
Conseil d’administration de la Queer Yukon Society
For Media Inquiries, please contact Edwine Veniat (She/Her), Head of Communications, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pour les demandes d'entrevue, veuillez contacter la responsable des communications, Edwine Veniat (elle), par courriel à email@example.com.
About queer yukon society
Queer Yukon Society supports, promotes, and organizes events for the LGBTQ2S+ community and our allies in Whitehorse, Yukon. Officially incorporated in 2018, Queer Yukon has been organizing Yukon Pride since 2013, as well as many other events to bring together LGBTQ2S+ and allied Yukoners to build a strong and vibrant community.