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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
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.