In this Newsletter
UBC Student Support & Advising
Beyond the Binary; Canadian Feminist Disability Coalition National Meet and Greet; National Guiding Circle – HIV, Disability and Deaf Communities Meeting;
Vancouver Writers Fest Accessibility Roundtable
In the Media
Mainland Community Services Society Conversation
Beyond the Binary Grant; JQT’S BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History
East Side Pride; Developing our low/reduced sensory spaces
Realize; Research Demographics
Burnaby Festival of Learning; City of Vancouver Disability Awareness Training; Crip Kindness for Poverty Reduction Coalition; Technology for Living Hospital Employees Union (HEU); Fortis BC; Massey Arts Society; Youth Action Collective (North Shore Restorative Justice Society)
UBC Student Support & Advising
LET'S was contacted by a person who had previously attended 1 of our workshops. They work at UBC and work with students, both online and in person. They inquired into the cost and process of our accessibility audits. Following our conversation, they proposed it to their management team and sought out funding. Happily, their application for the Move-U Grant was approved.
Interestingly, this accessibility audit was completed all online. LET'S’ advisor was given a series of videos of a UBC staff person walking around their environment. LET'S then made suggestions based on the videos. It was an interesting way to do an accessibility audit.
Following are grant application details which lay out the work we did.
Description of your project:
Our unit, Student Support & Advising, supports students throughout their time at UBC - mostly with matters concerning finances. We see students here in Brock Hall at the Advising Centre and the Welcome Centre. This project would pay for the [Live Educate Transform Society] to do a walking/strolling tour of the space to make suggestions on what we can do to make it more accessible to users of the space (students and staff alike). This would be a collaborative and engaging process between the experts and our unit.
students working together at school.
Description of how your project will support the various frameworks and plans
• Wellbeing Strategic Framework: promotes health and wellbeing where all people, including those with physical and other disabilities (staff and students) can flourish, by creating community, making the space more accessible. Of note, any recommendations would fall outside of the scope of this work - for example, purchasing armless chairs). This activity is in line with the WSF in the areas of collaborative leadership, mental health & resilience, social connection, built & natural environments and physical activity, in particular.
- Inclusion Action Plan: this plan operationalizes inclusion. From the plan "the emerging research in unequivocal: diversity enhances innovation and inclusive spaces are required to ensure that diverse teams are able to collaborate effectively.
- Indigenous Strategic Plan: By further this unit (and UBC's) commitment to accessible spaces, we can make our spaces more inclusive to those, paying particular attention to how inclusivity is anti-colonial and lifts up Indigenous ways of being and communities. The Western medical model of disability is very othering and very exclusive. By bringing the SSA team together, we can further underscore the importance of inclusion with diverse people, perspectives, bodies and abilities. Explanation of how your initiative will have a sustainable or long-lasting impact on the UBC community:
This initiative would contribute to creating a more engaged, active and connected workforce, in
having those staff members feel empowered to advocate for those with accessibility/disability considerations, and lay the groundwork for some longer lasting changes (with the suggestions that come from LET'S). This will lay the groundwork in our efforts to make our spaces, and UBC, a more inclusive place for people with differing abilities. As mentioned, we can take this work and further build on it at the conclusion of the initiative. As there will be recommendations from LET'S in terms of what we can do to make the space more inclusive, I will look for F through our unit for those items/actions. Over the last number of years, our team has been together less (for obvious reasons) so this will act as a team-building exercise, where we can learn individual exercises and actions and build community. Notably, we can share this with our wider networks and communities and make long lasting change at UBC. It starts with the individual and can radiate out by making personal and systemic changes. This would contribute to making UBC a more accessible space, for those with varying abilities, body sizes, etc. and ultimately all of us. There is heightened awareness to those who are more "able- bodied" and it is crucial that those who have the ability and resources to foster meaningful change for those who face additional barriers. I would like to thank the committee for not only reading my application but for offering these grants and being a catalyst for change at UBC!
Illustrated person on tablet standing in front of large application form.
Beyond the Binary
LET'S participated in a Beyond the Binary meeting. The goals of the meeting were to review the Beyond the Binary Canada goals, provide an overview/update of Beyond the Binary in BC outputs, discuss and identify additional partners (local community members, organizations, others), and summarize action items.
It was a great meeting and we look forward to our continued involvement in this vital work.
Canadian Feminist Disability Coalition National Meet and Greet
Participating in the Canadian Feminist Disability Coalition (CFDC) national meet and greet was a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals who share passion for advocacy and peer support work.
The objective of the CFDC project is to build the leadership and advocacy skills of diverse women and girls with disabilities to become agents of change for their rights in Canada. This project is a partnership between the Live Work Well Research Centre at the University of Guelph (LWWRC), DisAbled Women’s Network of Canada (DAWN) Indigenous Disability Canada
Person with braids in their hair, sitting in wheelchair.
(IDC) and the Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO).
The CFDC project is funded by the federal department of Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) through March 2024. The Project Director is Dr. Deborah Stienstra, a professor in Political Science at the University of Guelph and Director of the Live Work Well Research Centre.
The CFDC project aims to generate systemic change among diverse girls and women with disabilities in Canada, it will:
- Highlight and address discriminatory policies and practices that are a barrier for diverse girls and women with disabilities in Canada.
- Identify and implement resources, policies and practices that will aid diverse girls and women with disabilities’ leadership in social, economic and political sectors.
- Enhance networks and collaborations between civil society organizations, CFDC partners and diverse girls and women with disabilities through regional, national and transnational events, workshops and programs. National Guiding Circle – HIV, Disability and Deaf Communities Meeting A health inequity consistently flagged in Realize’s ongoing consultations with the HIV, disability and deaf communities across Canada are people’s experience of persistent ableism in accessing sexual health information, supports and services including those related to HIV, Hep C and other STBBI. It is a problem increasingly acknowledged in the Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC’s) engagement with the HIV, Hep C and STBBI sector (Community Action Fund Applicant Guide, 2020), but policymakers, program decision makers,
- health-care providers and community-based organizations often lack the resources and the “know-how” to address it. Guided by the community of people living with HIV and/or disability and/or who are deaf/hard of hearing, Realize aims to enable policymakers, public health and health care professionals, and front-line community-based service providers to build their capacity to achieve these human rights commitments to people living with disabilities and people living with HIV. We need the leadership, buy-in and cooperation of key allies among all stakeholders in the HIV and disability communities to achieve this goal.
The NGC is convened by a triad (3) of Co-Chairs, two of whom will always be individuals with living/lived experience and the other, a representative from Realize. Our current Co- Chairs are Francisco Ibaňez-Carrasco, Assistant Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Wendy Porch, Executive Director at the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto and Tammy C. Yates- Rajaduray, Executive Director of Realize.
LET'S is proud to have a representative on Canada’s first ever National Guiding Circle – HIV, Disability and Deaf Communities.
Vancouver Writers Fest Accessibility Roundtable
Our June meeting was filled with discussion regarding committee members’ recommendations from the 2022 event and priorities for the upcoming festival. Priorities include:
• Volunteer training
• Venue information
• Input on ASL Events
• Program Guide input
• Accessibility Statement
We look forward to our continued involvement in the committee and to the upcoming Writers Fest (October).
Announcing Big Changes at Press Conference
On May 4th, Live Educate Transform Society did a joint press conference with Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) to announce 2 big changes to this year’s Vancouver Pride events. LET'S has been working with Vancouver Pride Society since 2019. Based on the recommendations LET'S provided VPS, they announced that they were changing the parade route and festival location for increased accessibility.
Illustration of 9 microphones lined up on a wooden podium.
New site, new route, extra day on deck for Vancouver Pride events in 2023 by Elizabeth McSheffrey
“Heather McCain of Live, Educate, Transform Society — formerly Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods — welcomed the changes to the route and festival.
“The new festival location is a much-needed change,” she said. “We are excited that there is flat access without fills, concrete, less grass, and no sand in passive travel ... and plenty of room for harm reduction and low-sensory areas.”
McCain said many 2SLGBTQIA+ members feel “excluded from or discouraged” due to the inaccessibility of many Pride events."
Vancouver Pride parade moves East by Phoebe Fuller
After returning from a three-year pandemic-induced hiatus in 2022, parade organizers turned to the event with an increased focus on inclusion. Last season was the first time that Pride hired a dedicated accessibility co-ordinator.
Dunne said that a 2019 accessibility audit conducted by disability justice group Live Educate Transform Society (formerly known as Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods) was “the primary reason” for the move. “The recommendation was that we move out of Sunset Beach because of its inaccessibility,” she said.
Mainland Community Services Society Conversation
LET’S worked with Mainland Community Services Society (MCSS) to develop, host, and speak at a National AccessAbility Week celebration dialogue entitled “Creating Inclusive Communities”. The event’s goal was to provide an enriching experience built on the foundations of equity, knowledge, and lived expertise.
Heather McCain of LET'S was the event’s moderator. Harmony Bongat, of LET'S gave a powerful keynote speech about their experiences as a racialized, disabled, neurodivergent, single mother living in poverty and the barriers she has faced and how to create change so others don’t experience the same.
The Creating Inclusive Communities Dialogue (CICD) was a multi-stakeholder dialogue for both community leaders and change-makers working across AccessAbility sectors in British Columbia. CICD sought to engage community leaders and changemakers to advance systems change conversations and innovative solutions to issues impacting Persons Living with Disability in BC. This dialogue is part of a growing conversation about addressing the systems that affect Persons Living with Disability. Through a number of awareness-building activities, we moved the conversation forward to provide a “Highlight on Accessibility and Inclusion: Addressing Systemic Discrimination” – a project fully funded and supported by the Federal Government of Canada.
Photo of Heather and Harmony from LETS with the Mainland Community Services team.
Through participating in the dialogue, participants left with a deeper understanding of equity, power, ableism, disability justice, and accessibility. We heard from participants who said they were motivated to build upon what they learned in the session and build collective solidarity for accessibility within their community culture. The event was a great opportunity to collaborate with other leaders and practitioners to develop, and share initiatives to address issues specific to disabled folk. The dialogue was held on June 2nd, 2023 at UBC Robson Square. It was a free event.
Beyond the Binary Grant
In February, LET'S was a co- applicant on a grant to continue the work of the Beyond the Binary committee. In May, we heard that our application had been successful. Yay!
From the application: The overall goal of this Planning and Dissemination project is to inform nationally acceptable and feasible guidance and resources to advance gender-equitable, patient-oriented, trauma-informed women’s health research. Stakeholder engagement with 1) community (experts and persons with lived experience) and 2) researchers (including trainees and research administrators) will identify good practices for the implementation
Diverse group of illustrated queer people in celebratory mood.
of such research guidance and resources through a foundational resource package developed in British Columbia (BC). This will then be the focus of a future implementation science grant. The project also includes a national virtual seminar to share the guidance, resource package and good practices with the widest possible audience of researchers, trainees. and community members.
LET'S contribution with the grant included explaining why this work was important to our organization and members. LET’S Executive Director wrote:
“As leader of an organization by disabled people for disabled people, I come to this project with a patient-oriented and trauma-informed perspectives. The majority of our members have, what we call, medical PTSD. This is trauma based on negative and harmful interactions with medical professionals and a medical system that is deeply “ist” (ableist, classist, racist, etc.). We have members who avoid medical appointments because they don’t want to be constantly misgendered by medical professionals who haven’t been taught the appropriate language. We have others who hide their identities because they feel, based on experience (theirs and others), that they will receive less adequate treatment as for example, trans people. This project is an opportunity to move forward in a gender-equitable, patient-oriented, and trauma-informed manner. I want to see the day when our members can access a medical system that affirms and respects their identities. I work towards the day when they don’t have to avoid medical assistance because of their intersecting identities.
I believe this project is an important step forward to opening this conversation up and creating tools for medical professionals to better learn about our experiences. This work is also vital for all the people within the medical professional who are of these identities. We want the medical system, the very place they work, to be equitable to them as well as us, the patients. We want their co-workers to know the appropriate language to affirm and respect them. We want all 2SLGBTQIA+ people to be seen and validated.”
JQT’S BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History
In 2022, LET'S proudly offered a grant to JQT for their work on the BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History. In May, LET'S was honoured to be invited to the official launch of the online exhibit of the BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History Project. LET'S is so excited to see this project go live.
Visit JQT’s website to see their interactive timeline documenting 100 years of BC’s Jewish Queer & Trans history.
JQT’s BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History is the first project of its kind in the province. The Dorot Jewish Division at the New York Public Library shared that this project is the one of the largest oral history collections on the Jewish LGBTQ+ topic worldwide.
“Included on JQT’s website are curatorial remarks that speak to the importance of this project:
JQT Vancouver could not have existed without the work and lived experiences of the people featured in the BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History Project, as well as the work of many others who have not been featured. The sooner the weight of queerness can be lifted off a child’s shoulders and replaced with the culture of queerness, the easier it may be for that person to develop their own sense of self in a loving and accepting way. By telling the story of Max, who cruised synagogues in the early to mid-20th century, the stories of the feminist lesbian seders, queer Jewish weddings and transition ceremonies, and the presence of queer Jewish organizations and classes, we are sharing a queer and/or trans Jewish culture that has existed in British Columbia for almost a century. It often doesn’t take much to make someone who feels alone feel less alone.
By telling queer and/or trans Jewish stories, we hope to share with people and their families (biological and chosen) who are struggling with and/or celebrating their intersectional identities that there is a rich Jewish and queer and/or trans culture in BC. We hope that people feel seen by reading histories that reflect multiple aspects of their identities.
Rainbow across the horizon of sky behind copper Star of David.
These stories are stories of queer AND Jewish pride. We honour the struggle of the elders who fought to make queer and/or trans bodies legal in public and Jewish spaces. We celebrate people who have changed how we see the possibilities of our identities and show the progress that has yet to be accomplished. We acknowledge the stories that have yet to be told and the identities that are not represented by virtue of the limits of this project. We hope that the stories we have recorded are only the beginning and that the voices herein allow people to feel represented and inspire them to share their stories.”
Also included on their website is a quote about what this type of representation means:
“As a 23 year old queer Jew in Chilliwack... I have never had representation of queer Jews from the generation interviewed in your project, and I really can’t put into words how much that means to me and how appreciative I am of this project and everyone's participation.” Martha Gumprich
LET’S worked with GeekDesign to create a logo for Chronically Queer. We are very happy with our brand new logo. The C is made up people (heads and arms only) supporting one another, each in a colour of the Progress Pride flag. The Q utilizes the colour blue, just like the international symbol of accessibility. Within the Q, there are multiple disability icons including someone in a wheelchair, with forearm crutches, with a visual disability, hearing, brain, medication, heart, etc.
Chronically Queer logo.
A C made up of heads and arms on each other’s shoulders and in the colours of the Progress Pride flag. The Q is made up of disability icons.
East Side Pride
LET’S did the low sensory booth for Vancouver Pride Society at East Side Pride. It was such a hit that LET’S was asked to do it both days of the Vancouver Pride Festival, at Burnaby Pride, the Vancouver Dyke March, and at Victoria Pride. We were very proud of how well received my low sensory tent has been.
In an 8 hour day, we only had 15 minutes where it was empty. We had 6 people colouring at 1 point and a child who happily lay on the blanket and played with stuffies and balls for 90 minutes while their mum enjoyed the event (popping back every 15 minutes to check on them). LET’S had volunteers, all neurodivergent, in the tent.
Our Executive director was particularly happy to offer a low sensory tent because it was what they needed when I was younger. Heather said “It's nice to be able to offer others what I didn't have available to me.”
The low sensory tent was placed next to LET'S informational booth. It was a great day and we were able to share our work with quite a few people.
LET'S is working with Realize on a research project. In June, we put a call out for participants and received an amazing amount of people willing to share their stories. In a 2 week period, we did 46 interviews. The participants helped us expand our collective knowledge and understanding about the issues that directly impact the employment journey of queer and trans community members living with episodic disabilities in Canadian workplaces. (This was a paid opportunity.)
Participants needed to be 2SLGBTQIA+ and disabled/person with a disability, chronically ill, mad, crip, neurodivergent, and/or Deaf/deaf with episodic disabilities. Participants must be from, what is colonially known as, Canada.
Realize’s definition of episodic disabilities:
A person can simultaneously live with both permanent and episodic disabilities; however, there are clear distinctions. An episodic disability is marked by fluctuating periods and degrees of wellness and disability. In addition, these periods of wellness and disability are unpredictable. As a consequence, a person may move in and out of the labour force in an unpredictable manner.
Examples of episodic disabilities: arthritis, asthma, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, colitis, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS, pain, lupus, mental health issues, multiple sclerosis (MS), muscular dystrophy, severe migraines, and more
The interviews were amazingly diverse and yet they all shared similar themes, experiences, and ableism in the workplace. We excitedly finished our report and submitted it to Realize. There will be a 2 day event in November where the 6 organizations, that participated in the research, share their findings. We will make sure to update you when that happens.
LET'S was proud of the diverse demographics included in the 46 interviews (we even learned about some new, to us, identities). Here are some of our demographics:
Abbotsford, Burnaby, Chilliwack, Comox Valley, Courteney, Coquitlam, Kitchner, Ontario, Langley, Nanaimo, Nelson, Ottawa, Ontario, Pitt Meadows, Richmond, Salmo, Tla'Amin territory, qathet area, aka Lund, Toronto, Ontario, Tsawwassen, Vancouver, BC/Unceded Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-waututh, Victoria, West Vancouver, Winlaw
Age Range: Teen to 58
Aro/Ace, Aroflux, asexuality, bisexual, butch, demisexual, ethically non-monogamous, gay, gayish queer, lesbian, omnisexual, pansexual, polysexual, queer
2 spirit, agender, beyond binary, butch, cis female, depends on day, female, female-ish, femme, genders are many, gender fluid, genderqueer, girl, girl with a question mark and shrug emoji, low fem, male, male-genderfluid, male (transgender), man, no gender, non-binary, non-binary woman, not applicable, pangender, queer, transgender, trans male, transfem, transmisogyny-affected (TMA), trans, non-binary, woman, xgender (connected to Filipino culture)
Illustration of 2 rows of diverse people of various genders.There is a rainbow flag in between the rows.
People with more than 1 gender identity: 14
Any pronouns, he/him, he/she, he/they, she/her, she/they, they/he/keoi (Cantonese), they/she, they/them
Black, Black/biracial, Chinese, East-Southeast Asian (Chinese-Vietnamese), Filipino, Indigenous, Japanese, Jewish, Latin/Latino/Latinx, mixed, mixed (white and Central American Indigenous), South Asian, white/white Settler
Disclosed Immigrants (5)
No personal income to $91,000
Highest Education (does not need to be completed):
Did not graduate high school, completed high school, certificates, college, culinary school, bachelors, diplomas, post graduate, masters, doctorate, trade/technical/ vocational training
Burnaby Festival of Learning
LET'S was excited to participate in our 3rd Burnaby Festival of Learning. We taught a Disability Awareness workshop that invited participants to more fully challenge ableist notions of how we think about and label our bodies, minds, and senses. We taught about what disability is, types of disability, the current language of disability, what ableism is, how one can actively work to fight against it, and tips for disabled people and allies alike to better ensure equity in all that you do.
A thank you to BCIT for hosting our workshop in the Summit Room of their library.
City of Vancouver Disability Awareness Training LET'S continued our contract with the City of Vancouver and offered another session of our Disability Awareness workshop.
In addition to our ongoing training, we are working with the City to have a recorded version of our training. We are in the beginning stages of figuring out how to transition our workshops to an online course. We excited by this work because LET'S hopes to start having our workshops available for pay to play in 2024. The contract with the City of Vancouver is an excellent opportunity to figure out how best to proceed with our goal.
Crip Kindness for Poverty Reduction Coalition
Homelessness Services Association (HSABC) and the Poverty Reduction Coalition (PRC) were adding another round of virtual anti-oppressive workshops available to their respective members and they thought of LET'S. They saw the information on our Crip Kindness workshop and booked that for their members. It was a great audience. We look forward to a continued relationship with both Homelessness Services Association and the Poverty Reduction Coalition.
Technology for Living
LET'S was contacted by the Community Coordinator for Technology for Living. They explained that they recently initiated a diversity, inclusion and equity committee and were looking for speakers who could provide education to our staff. They were particularly interested in learning more about neurodivergence. The staff expressed that they feel they don't have adequate education on this topic and learning more would help them to better serve our membership.
LET'S was contacted because the Community Coordinator had previously seen a LET'S presentation and thought that it was extremely well done and enlightening. It’s always rewarding to hear that our presentations have made a positive impression on participants.
Hospital Employees Union (HEU)
We were recommended to the Equity and Human Rights Officer in HEU’s Education and Human Rights Department by another HEU employee. The Equity and Human Rights Officer was one of the organizers of the Equity Conference, in Spring of this year, and had the opportunity to sit in on LET'S’ workshop. They thought the workshop we delivered was great (always nice to hear).
Photo of 2 older lesbians kissing, wrapped in rainbow flags.
HEU was seeking a sort of Intro to Queer Issues 101. The workshop was for allies only – not for people who belong to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. The audience was eager to learn and active in the conversations. This was an in person workshop so we brought along our collection of stim toys.
The participants really enjoyed the stim toys, some saying they were able to concentrate or focus better than they’d ever previously experienced. So while our workshops was on Queer issues, we also did some education about neurodivergence and regulating emotions through the use of stim toys.
For Pride Month, Fortis, a previous client, wanted to do a lunch and learn. LET'S delivered 2 workshops, 1 in person and 1 online. Both workshops were our Gender and Sexuality workshop. It was a great audience who had well thought out questions.
Massey Arts Society
LET’S delivered the 2nd of 2 workshops for the staff of Massy Arts Society. The first was Disability Awareness. The second was a combination of Disability Justice and Crip Kindness. This was a great audience of engaged participants who asked great questions about how they can integrate accessibility practices into their venue, workplace, and services.
Youth Action Collective (North Shore Restorative Justice Society)
LET'S is always excited to get an email from North Shore Restorative Justice Society. We enjoy engaging with the youth in their program. Their Youth Action Collective was formed in 2020 and came out of the gap they noticed in the North Shore, the fact that there was a lack of spaces/groups dedicated to youth organizing, by youth. They were planning a new event series designed to bring other like-minded, youth-oriented people/organizations together to share skills, learn about movement building together, and create a sense of community amongst their various youth networks. They reached out to LET'S to see if we were interested in joining them for a session in this series. We said yes.
The intention behind the series of events is to hold space for community conversations to take place between youth on a variety of social justice issues facing their communities. As representatives of an organization working in the areas of social justice or community building, our role in attending an event was to offer a little bit of background/context for your involvement in the area and then participate as a member in an unstructured conversation circle. They wanted the focus to be allowing youth an opportunity to share thoughts, ask questions and grow in a safe learning space with knowledgeable people available and participating as equals to answer questions or share experiences.
Our theme was Building Accessible Communities. Just as with our previous experiences with the North Shore Restorative Justice Society, we had a great time speaking with the youth and learning about their perspectives and experiences as we shared our own and our members’.
A group of diverse students in a library having a lively discussion.