Outdoors For Everyone

In Canada, the United States, and Australia, the month of October is recognized as LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) History Month. This is meant to coincide with National Coming Out Day on October 11 and to commemorate the first and second marches on Washington in 1979 and 1987 for LGBT rights. With the importance of this month, Valley Life Recreation (VLR) has the following to share.

While fundraising for the coming trail park remains a focus, work also continues to create an organization we can all be proud of that represents our entire community. In addition to our recently shared Indigenous Engagement Plan, VLR would like to share another small part of the first steps we are taking to ensure that the projects we bring to life are open and welcoming to all. This includes all members of the 2STLGBQ+ (Two-Spirit, Transgender, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, Questioning) community and those who access our trails for any reasons.

Earlier this summer, the VLR Diversity and Inclusion Committee, chaired by Richard Dupuis along with committee members Carrie McCallum and Tim Frykoda, met with representatives of the Sexuality Education Resource Centre (SERC) in Brandon. The goal was to create a partnership for the purpose of future planning and events, and to have them help us ensure the Squirrel Hills Trail Park becomes a welcoming place for everyone. Through followup meetings, a valuable relationship has been formed based on our shared values and everyone is very excited for what lies ahead.

“I am happy that SERC is partnering with VLR in order to add another perspective to the creation of our project. In order to achieve true inclusivity, we need to include perspectives that are different than ours, and perspectives that have not typically had a voice. Partnering with SERC brings us one of those perspectives, reminders of who we want to use our trails, and how we can ensure that our vision is wholesome. The staff at SERC bring exciting ideas I cannot wait to work on together and bring to our community.”

Carrie McCallum, Diversity and Inclusion Committee Member, VLR

SERC will soon be attending a VLR Board meeting to meet the entire team and work has already begun on events that we will co-develop with them to ensure every member of our community understands that the places we create are just as much for them as anyone else.

“SERC is very excited to be working with the Valley Life Recreation team in the planning for the Squirrel Hills Trail Park. We know that exercise, fresh air, and connecting with nature can be incredibly healing and can provide great community building opportunities. The partnership aims to create a truly inclusive environment where all people can enjoy the beauty of the area. We are developing plans to host events to boost visibility of the trail, gather community, and create lasting connections.”

Racheal Wu, 2STLGBQ+ Program Facilitator, SERC

Work is and will be ongoing between VLR and SERC and the first events to be hosted in collaboration with one another will take place in 2022. Stay tuned to VLR for news of when details of those events are ready to be shared and we look forward to your participation in them.

The Valley Life Recreation Board would like to thank Racheal and her team at the Sexuality Education Resource Centre in Brandon for their warm welcome to this conversation, for their leadership, and for helping us work on the topics of diversity and inclusion together, ensuring we truly make spaces that represent outdoors for everyone.

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