Dear Queer Yukon community,
As we wrap up 2023 — and I start my second year as Queer Yukon's Executive Director — I wanted to share with you some of what we've been working on this year.
At the start of the year, we opened up The Cache, our Whitehorse community space, for regular drop-in hours. Four days a week, from 2pm and 5pm, anyone can stop in and browse our library, have a hot beverage, ask questions and get support, use our gender-neutral shower, lockers and laundry facilities, and walk out with gender gear, toiletries or other needed items. On Thursdays, we are open until 7pm with activities including monthly movie nights and crafting meet-ups.
In Dawson, we started hosting monthly community dinners that showcase 2SLGBTQIA+ talents and bring community members together for food and good company in a 2SLGBTQIA+-centred safe space. This fall, our Dawson office moved in with the Dawson City Music Festival, giving us space to open up weekly drop-in hours for Dawsonites as well.
Pride 2023 drew our highest attendance yet, nearly 1,500 attendees across 16 events in Whitehorse, Dawson City and Watson Lake. Over the summer we also saw many of you out and about around the Whitehorse area as we hosted hikes and lake days for our Hot Queer Summer.
In terms of more tangible supports, we distributed close to 250 items of Gender Gear, and provided nearly $40,000 in emergency utility payments to community members facing housing insecurity. At the same time, we upgraded our interfaces to allow more seamless online ordering for folks accessing gender gear from outside Whitehorse, and to protect the privacy of people needing utility payments. We continued to distribute Direct Aid (toiletries, clothing and other basic needs) to 2SLGBTQIA+ Yukoners through our 3 community locations — and we partnered with the Whitehorse period pantry to provide free menstrual products outside our Whitehorse space.
In August, we hired the territory's first 2SLGBTQIA+ Health Navigator! Aude and the health and education team have been hard at work making connections, setting up secure storage for personal health information, and talking to community members about their needs. Look for a full launch of our health navigation service early next year! Meanwhile, in 2023, we also started offering bloodwork and vaccine clinics in a 2SLGBTQIA+ safe space, and we look forward to expanding those services in 2024.
On the advocacy front, we developed three new 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion workshops in the spring and have given trainings to healthcare professionals, parents, educators, and other members of the public. We’ve also begun offering one-on-one consulting to community partners and service providers to be more inclusive to our community. At the same time, we’re making sure to support projects led by our 2SLBTQIA+ community: we host three peer-led support groups in our Whitehorse space, and provide space and financial support to queer-led events throughout the year.
We already have big plans for 2024! In the next few months, we will be expanding our youth outreach to communities outside Whitehorse, publishing the findings and recommendations from our community-based research into 2SLGBTQIA+ experiences accessing services, launching a full-fledged health navigation service, and creating more space for peer-led support groups.
As a young and growing organization, so much of our work is invisible — a lot of behind-the-scenes planning and researching and trial and error to build the structures and policies that will set us up to work for 2SLGBTQIA+ Yukoners in a long-term way. But we always want to hear from you with ideas, suggestions and feedback! Watch for a new website and more ways to stay connected and involved in 2024. In the meantime, you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or stop in and say hi!
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.