INSPIRE Awards 12th Anniversary — January 6, 2024
Our 12th anniversary of the awards will commence a little later in the season than usual, this time on January 6th, 2024. Unfortunately, due to some unforeseen construction at UofT’s Hart House, the board decided to pivot dates to create an everlasting celebration for queer excellence – indoors! Our community has been excited and vocal about the INSPIRE awards and we cannot wait to host the night!
Let’s celebrate the LGBTQ2S+ community and create an event where inspiring people, youth, organizations, and businesses are recognized for their wonderful work.
On behalf of INSPIRE Awards Board of Directors, Subcommittees, Community Partners, and Sponsors:
Congratulations to all the Recipients and Nominees!
INSPIRE Awards 2023 Recipients & Nominees
Tracey Erin Smith
Tracey Erin Smith is an award-winning artist and heart-centred activist who has spent her career amplifying Queer voices across Canada and around the world. For more than a quarter century , since she first conceived and developed the renowned SOULO Theatre, she has worked with members of the LGBTQ+ community in person and online, and helped them stand before audiences and tell their stories with passion and pride. Smith is also the creator and host of the award-winning and critically acclaimed documentary TV series Drag Heals , seen in Canada and around the world. Drag Heals , heading into its fourth season, showcases the true stories of Canadians from all genders, generations, cultural backgrounds and expressions of drag. Born and raised in Toronto/Tkaronto, Tracey also lives in Southwest Nova Scotia on the unceded lands of the Mi’kmaqi people with her partner Sarah Garton Stanley and their dog, Matzo. Together they co-steward Birchdale, an off grid hunting and fishing lodge, now
retreat centre, that is an inclusive destination-haven for artists, queers, and dreamers, all. Smith is a much sought after workshop leader who is leading several intensives in the coming months. Her book, The Ministry of Stories , is set to be released in June of 2024.
Michael Bach is an author, speaker and thought leader in inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA). He is the founder of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI), CCDI Consulting and Pride at Work Canada. Michael has worked professionally in IDEA for nearly 20 years, most recently as the founding CEO of CCDI and CCDI Consulting . Before that he was the national leader of diversity, equity and inclusion for KPMG Canada, and the deputy Chief Diversity Officer for KPMG International. His 2020 book Birds of All Feathers: Doing Diversity and Inclusion Right is a Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and Amazon bestseller, and recipient of the silver 2020 Nautilus Book Award in the category of Rising to the Moment, and a finalist in the Legacy Nonfiction category for the American Bookfest’s Best Book Awards. His new book Alphabet Soup: The Essential Guide to LGBTQ2+ Inclusion at Work was released in March of 2022 and is a Toronto Star bestseller and finalist in the General Nonfiction category for the American Bookfest’s Best Book Awards.
Carol Ruddell (Honourary Lifetime Achievement)
Carol Ruddell was a force to be reckoned with in Municipal politics. Her unwavering commitment to championing the rights of her constituents and community, demanding equal access for all to public services, has left an indelible mark on our city. First elected to Scarborough council in 1966, Carol holds the historic title of being the first Canadian politician to give birth while holding office! Her pragmatic vision extended beyond the traditional boundaries of politics. Recognizing her exceptional leadership and dedication, Carol was appointed to the Toronto Metro Council in 1975, where her influence and expertise expanded to shape regional
policies and initiatives. Her service on various influential boards, including Scarborough General Hospital, Toronto Grace Hospital, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, highlighted her commitment to improving healthcare and public services for all. Valuing the importance of citizen participation, she introduced the concept in council meetings, making Scarborough the first city to embrace this democratic approach. Her advocacy for open dialogue and inclusive decision-making continues to shape political processes to this day. Carol relentlessly fought for equal rights, challenging prejudice and intolerance head-on. Fearlessly
standing up for what she believed in, Carol boldly challenged the status quo. In 1981, she was the only member of Toronto Metro Council who fiercely argued against the Toronto bathhouse raids, known as Operation Soap. Her steadfast belief in human rights and justice is an inspiration to those fighting against discrimination. As a founding board member of the Second Base Youth Shelter and President of Masaryktown Non- Profit Housing, Carol demonstrated her unwavering commitment to providing safe havens and affordable housing to the most vulnerable members of society. Her tireless efforts have improved countless lives and inspired others to join the cause. Chronic volunteerism is Carol’s affliction, but it is a gift to her community. She was dedicated to making a difference, donating her time and expertise to various causes.
Carol Ruddell, a true trailblazer in Canadian politics, has left an indelible mark on her community through her exceptional accomplishments and unwavering dedication. From breaking barriers to championing the underdog, Carol’s pragmatic approach and relentless commitment have reshaped the political landscape. A tenacious advocate, a chronic volunteer, and a champion of equality. Her legacy will endure, reminding us all that change begins with one person’s unwavering commitment to making a difference.
An iconic feminist musician, producer, director, and performance artist, Peaches has spent more than two decades pushing boundaries and breaking barriers, dramatically altering the landscape of popular culture as she forged a bold, sexually progressive path that’s opened the doors for countless others to follow. Through music, art, film, theater, television, and books, she has upended stereotypes and embraced taboos, challenging social norms and patriarchal power structures while championing LGBTQIA+ rights and issues of gender and sexual identity with biting wit and fearless originality.
She first catapulted to international stardom with her “surreally funny [and] nasty” (Rolling Stone) 2000 debut, The Teaches of Peaches, an album which upended stereotypes and embraced taboos as it introduced the world to Peaches’ raunchily explosive persona. Since then, she’s released four more critically acclaimed albums prompting the New York Times to dub her a “genuine heroine” and Uncut to rave that she brings together “high art, low humor, and deluxe filth [in] a hugely seductive combination.” In addition to collaborating with everyone from Daft Punk and The Flaming Lips, to P!nk, and Yoko Ono her music has been honored with the prestigious Polaris Heritage Prize, and been featured in cultural watermarks like Lost In Translation, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Broad City, and studied at universities around the world.
An equally prolific visual and performance artist, Peaches has directed over twenty of her own videos, curated a stunning book of Holger Talinski photographs documenting her life on and off the road, and participated in some of modern art’s most prominent
gatherings, including Art Basel Miami and the Venice Biennale. In 2010, she unveiled Peaches Does Herself, an electro-rock opera spanning material from throughout her career that was arranged into a loosely autobiographical narrative. It morphed into a
film of the same title, which premiered at the TIFF in 2012 before traveling to more than 70 festivals around the world. Peaches continued her foray into theater with a one woman production of Jesus Christ Superstar, redubbed Peaches Christ Superstar, which
continues to be performed at theaters and festivals globally and was featured in 2016 as part of the Kammerspiele Munich repertoire. Ever eclectic, she sang the title role in a Berlin production of Monteverdi’s epic 17th-century opera L’Orfeo and joined forces with Yoko Ono on a recreation of her iconic 1964 performance Cut Piece at the 2013 Meltdown Festival in London. Ono later said that Cut Piece will never be performed again with such eloquence,” adding “I have a clear vision of future women artists led by the creative courage of Peaches.”
In 2019, Peaches starred as Anna in the Staatstheater Stuttgart’s new adaptation of Brecht/Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins and launched her first institutional solo art exhibition that premiered at the Kunstverein in Hamburg entitled Whose Jizz Is This? At the Kampnagel Summer Festival, Peaches’ futuristic stage happening There’s Only One Peach With The Hole In The Middle celebrated its world premiere. This production featured 16 dancers, a 12-piece orchestra, special guests, and a fully redesigned stage and light extravaganza. There’s Only One Peach… played at Royal Festival Hall (London, UK), Musikhuset Aarhus (Aarhus, DK), and Volksbühne (Berlin, DE). Peaches only continues to break new ground. In 2020 her seminal album The Teaches of Peaches turned 20, which NPR says fundamentally “shifted the window for sex in pop.” In a viral moment, Dave Grohl & Greg Kurstin’s 2020 Hanukkah Sessions sparked delight with a Grohl/Peaches duet of “Fuck the Pain Away.” She released the kinetic “Flip This,”
which Rolling Stone said “challenges status quo and calls for systemic change.”
2021 saw her influence only further manifest. Peaches released the delightfully subversive “Pussy Mask.” “The perfect release” (Paper) was hailed by critics, including Stereogum who said it “combines her inimitable political critique, ribald wordplay, and enveloping electro.” She was also cited as the main inspiration for designer Anthony Vaccarello’s AW21 Saint Laurent collection and “Fuck the Pain Away” was used as a climactic moment in Netflix’s Sex Education Season 3. She celebrated the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade with friends Cyndi Lauper, Nona Hendyrx, Linda Perry, and others on Amanda Shires’ “Our Problem.” In January 2022, Peaches announced The Teaches of Peaches Anniversary Tour, a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Peaches’ seminal The Teaches of Peaches. It was met with sold-out audiences across North America, Europe, and the United Kingdom. Peaches extends the successful run to Australia and New Zealand starting in February 2023. In addition, Peaches is currently working on a brand new album, with more details to come.
Tweets by peaches
Muluba is a resilient activist, journalist, aunty, sister, friend, person living with HIV, and more. Muluba was born with HIV and was raised to keep her HIV a secret – a common decision by many people living with HIV. As a child and teen, this was both confusing and alienating. Her feeling of isolation was further heightened after losing both her parents to HIV-related complications. Since 2014, Muluba has been open about her status and is a fierce activist in Canada, and internationally. She speaks on well-being, quality of life, and education. Muluba has been a National Youth Ambassador for CANFAR since 2015, and together with their team, she has done presentations for various schools, conferences, and rallies. Muluba is passionate about CANFAR’s mission in ending the HIV epidemic in Canada through research and awareness, as progress in the areas of HIV research and medication has been a vital part of her life since 1995. Muluba’s story includes themes of resilience, self-care, leadership, and empowering others in the face of adversity. In her role as a National Youth Ambassador for CANFAR, Muluba educates, engages, and empowers other youth across Canada through CANFAR’s National Youth Awareness Program.
“People will always tell you that you can’t. Do it anyways. Make mistakes for a living. Learn how you can. The best things I’ve ever done, I did because I didn’t know I couldn’t.”
Born to a working-class family in Oshawa, Ontario, Stacey was a tech geek from the start. Assigned male at birth, she was encouraged to pursue science and electronics, got her first computer at the age of 12, and hasn’t let go of it since – literally. That little Tandy CoCo still works and is the gem of her retro- computing collection.
Her obsession with tech fueled her as a serial entrepreneur, and in 2002 she launched a software consultancy founded on the idea that building software is a humanist endeavour, not a technological one. That year “Three Wise Men” (now Mojility) delivered the first “headless content management system”; a term that would take 13 more years to emerge in the industry.
Surviving a rare and brutal cancer in 2008 stripped away her paralyzing fear of transition. The amazing support she got from the Toronto trans community and PFLAG in Durham Region inspired her and her wife to give back, working alongside other community volunteers and professionals in the health care community they built and launched Gender Journeys programs in Durham Region and beyond for trans folks, youth, caregivers, and partners.
That intersection of her business experience, fascination with technology, and love for social work, propelled a new path for her as an Agile Technical Excellence Coach. She began applying those skills together to remind people in businesses that a job title is just a label, and we can do better for ourselves and our people by recognizing that hundred-year-old industrialized approaches to business and management won’t solve today’s challenges.
After nearly a decade travelling the US as a consultant, her current challenge is working at RBC, building a post-agile coaching practice in Toronto, where she continues to make mistakes for a living.
Stacey now lives with Sharon (her wife of 28 years and the real hero of her story) in a log cabin in the middle of the woods in Wilberforce, Ontario.
Sky Gilbert is a poet, novelist, playwright, filmmaker, theatre director, and drag queen extraordinaire. He was co-founder and artistic director of Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre — one of the world’s largest gay and lesbian theatres — from 1979 to 1997. He has had more than 40 plays produced, and written 7 critically acclaimed novels and three award winning poetry collections. He has received three Dora Mavor Moore Awards as well as the Pauline McGibbon Award, The Silver Ticket Award and the ReLit Award for his novel An English Gentleman. There is a street in Toronto named after him: ‘Sky Gilbert Lane.’ His second book about Shakespeare — Shakespeare Lied — will be published by Guernica Editions this fall. He is presently working on his 9th full length novel The Little Blue House, to be published by Cormorant. Dr. Gilbert is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph.
☆ Matt Ashcroft – Recipient ☆
Matt Ashcroft is an 2SLGBTQIA+ and racial equity advocate and student at the University of Toronto majoring in Equity Studies and Sexual Diversity Studies under New College. As a conversion therapy survivor, his advocacy includes confronting gaps in legislation that allow for systemic abuses such as sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts (SOGICE) to further marginalize 2SLGBTQIA+ people in Canada, the United States, and abroad – Matt holds key decision makers such as “ex-gay leaders” and government officials accountable for ensuring the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ2+ people are protected from pathologizing and discrimination. Matt’s advocacy has been featured in media including, but not limited to, CTV W5, CBC, NPR, and speaking engagements including being a key informant on conversion therapy on a speaking panel with the legal firms Norton Rose Fulbright, Thompson Reuters, as well as with the Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC). Along with other survivors with whom Matt has connected, he has been a key founder of Conversion Therapy Survivors (CT Survivors), a non-profit organization that amplifies the voices of those who have experienced conversion therapy and provides a peer-support group to increase the mental health of victims. Matt has successfully banned conversion therapy within Canada including consent provisions within the bill, meaning you can’t consent to conversion therapy in Canada.
Ticha (Tee) Albino - Nominee
Tee Albino is presently the Human Rights Business Representative for the IBEW Local 353 in Toronto. They are also on the Executive Board of the OFL, on the Human Rights Advisory Committee of the CLC and on the executive board of the National Electrical Workers Minority Caucus. Tee has been involved on several committees and has held elected positions in the IBEW as well as working as an apprentice instructor for several years at their original local in Vancouver BC. They also sit on the OASIS committee for NETCO(National Electrical Trades Council) and is chair for the WAGE committee for EHRC(Electrical Human Resources Canada). They have also collaborated on the creation of and co-instruct on The Pathway Program for Women and Gender Diverse Folks for IBEW 353. They continue their human rights work through advocacy, training, coalition building and to encourage effective mentorship on the job working toward the transformation of construction culture.
They are presently working on Bystander Intervention Training for the Construction Industry. Through this and many other initiatives and training, they are hoping to transform the construction industry to a more equitable, inclusive atmosphere where all workers can feel a sense of belonging and be able to thrive. This will, hopefully, in turn filter into the community.
Krista Carew - Nominee
Krista’s work with Your Royal Hybrid focuses on fostering safer and more inclusive spaces for queer folks, survivors of trauma, and people of all genders. As the sole founder of, Your Royal Hybrid, Krista hopes to utilize a spectrum of strategies such as speaking, education, collaborative community fundraising, consulting, harm reduction practices, advocacy, connection, writing, and the creation of community projects. Despite founding YRH alone, their work requires community collaboration. Krista
created Your Royal Hybrid as they didn’t see enough people valuing or prioritizing this work. Although their work started in the cannabis industry, it expands to other communities and industries. Using their background in community work and lived experience, Krista aims to bring community safety forward as a priority, especially for queer folks in the industry. It is important to them that there is a shift in the community from inclusion and acceptance to celebration. Krista is actively involved in community projects with the creation of the Pass It Forward campaign. The campaign involves rolling or packing a joint and they pass it forward. This project aims to support people to build connections in the community, share and connect over their favourite cannabis, and bring joy to the space.
Skittles Roshan – Nominee
I am a trans woman of colour who is living in the northern parts of the Scarborough community and I have a passion for inspiring others especially those with all kinds of disabilities. I am a cosplayer and an active gardener. I have a disability myself but I don’t like to let that get in my way of the many things doing all the things that I love such as my advocacy work and the work I do for the amazing people of Scarborough. I love to learn about other people’s culture because the Scarborough community is very much diverse and I wouldn’t trade that in for anything else. I work with Rainbows Pride in Scarborough and enjoy working with the 2SQTBIPOCSA community. I am eternally grateful to be surrounded by amazing people and having them supporting me is truly great to have.
Ali Greey – Nominee
Ali Greey is a 3-time Canadian champion boxer and a former member of Canada’s national boxing team. Ali is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, and their research examines the experiences of and conditions for trans athletes in sport (master’s research) and trans youth in schools (PhD research). Ali co-edited “Justice for Trans Athletes” and “Trans Athlete Resistance” (forthcoming) and has authored over a dozen journal articles and book chapters advocating for the inclusion and belonging of trans athletes. Ali is currently writing a book with Athlete Ally and Chris Mosier, “Human Too: Why Transgender Athletes Deserve to Play.” Ali’s dissertation work examines the experience of trans and nonbinary youth in K-12 schools, focusing on how youth, educators, and parents navigate conflicting understandings about youth’s claims to gendered autonomy. In addition to trans and nonbinary rights, Ali is also passionate about recovery. Ali has been sober for over eight years and actively works with others struggling for sobriety.
☆ Selena Carlson - Recipient ☆
Selena Carlson is a young performer with an Autism Diagnosis. From a very young age Selena was labeled as “non communicative “. When she enrolled in music therapy and worked closely with music therapists, Selena’s life changed drastically! Today, Selena is an Ambassador for Rise Against Bullying and has made it her life’s mission to show the world that just because you are different doesn’t make your dreams any less special. Selena performs with a theatre group for people with exceptionalities, they perform Broadway musicals. Each year Selena memorizes everyone’s lines so she can help them! Any chance Selena gets to help someone out, she takes it.
Leon Tsai - Nominee
Leon Tsai (they/she) is a Taiwanese trans-femme and settler-immigrant storyteller (un/re)learning in Tkaronto. While seeding softness through grief and madness, they invite the world on this journey together: planning, caring, and preparing for the softest revolution yet where none is left behind. May we blossom softer, so we don’t break further.
Axel Wilson – Nominee
My journey began the day I was born, I always felt something was different. Growing up with my older brother I was always protected but after he moved away to start his own life I began my own as well. During my school years in elementary I was always bullied by the kids in my grade or higher, which in my eyes is one of the reasons why it took me so long to come out. Being in such a toxic school environment I decided to drop out before my graduation, and take a break from schooling and do more life work. My mother helped teach me during this time and helped me gain some confidence back, but what truly helped me come out at the age of 16 was going to Camp Ten Oaks summer camp. This was the best camp ever, and everyone was so unique in their own ways which really helped aid me in finding myself after all those years. Fast forward a year later at 17 my mom heard about the Triangle Program school, we decided it might be best to go check it out and I loved it so much I started that week! It was such a refreshing feeling being in a space where everyone was accepting and not judgmental or bullying me or others for being ourselves. Now at the age of 24 I have done many volunteer hours within my own and other communities and am well known in them through other things such as babysitting and taking care of peoples pets. My heart is deeply rooted in my community and Im so thankful they are so supportive
Kirina Renee Iris - Nominee
Growing up in a strict, neglectful household I quickly began to question my gender identity due to all the harsh gender roles and expectation place on me. It wasn’t until the start of 2020 when I came out as a Trans women that I started seeking spaces where I would be celebrated, finding my way to The 519, with the programs they provided and a dedicated mentor, I was able to develop the skills and knowledge to live my authentic self. Having the opportunity to give back to the community I decided I would follow in the footsteps of my mentor and help those looking to find a “Brave Space” to talk about their experiences and socialize with other Trans folk. I often find myself providing resources and engaging in communities outside the physical spaces of a community center in games and VR (Virtual Reality) to connect and broaden my reach to those who use games to like VR to cope with their gender dysphoria.
☆ Liam Skinner - Recipient ☆
Liam is a queer and trans-identified Registered Psychotherapist and proud papa of two kids. He/They have played many roles in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community over the past three decades, as DJ, promoter and co-founder of Yes Yes Y’all , to community mental health roles, and into a private therapy practice that focuses on providing affirming care for 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals and families. For the past 10+ years he/they have also been working in community mental health/substance misuse and social service agencies in Toronto. They/He have steadfastly advocated for affirming services and the ongoing rights and inclusion of 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals working as service providers, as well as those receiving services. Liam understands firsthand the importance of 2SLGBTQIA+ affirming mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health care. He/They are fiercely dedicated to supporting the resilience, healing and growth of 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals and their families, which is needed to thrive in a world that continues to dehumanize and attempts to erase 2SLGBTQIA+ existence. Liam has benefited greatly from the guidance, inspiration and support of mentors, past and present, within our beautiful 2SLGBTQIA+ community and is profoundly grateful to play the role they have now as a therapist. When Liam is not providing therapy services, they\he can be found playing with their kids, hiking in the forest, exploring lakes and rivers, reading, cooking and listening to music.
Nona Vegan – Nominee
Kailey is the ‘Sauce Boss’ of NONA Vegan, a company dedicated to her late Italian mother. She started the company in 2013, and has enjoyed building it throughout both the challenges and exciting wins. NONA’s mission is to provide delicious plant-based foods that bring the comfort and nourishment of an Italian mama’s home cooking. NONA’s vision is to unite a global community with the shared values of kindness, inclusion, and a love of good food. NONA is a certified diverse LGBTQ+ company with the CGLCC. Kailey is passionate about supplier diversity and often speaks on panels regarding this topic. She also feels it is important to be out and proud as a business leader, to provide a positive example for others. NONA has 5 delicious sauce offerings including: Alfredo, Cheesy, Carbonara, Bolognese, and Rosee. These sell across Canada and the US. They can be used in a variety of dishes such as pasta, veggies, proteins and snackers! The sauces are allergen-friendly so that everyone can come together to enjoy the same meal regardless of their dietary restrictions. “Tutti a tavola” as we like to say, or “Everyone to the table”!
Transgender Voice Coaching with Sophie – Nominee
Sophie Edwards is a professional transgender voice feminization coach. More importantly, however, she is a transgender woman herself. Having begun her transition in 2018, Sophie has worked hard to feminize her voice and now offers voice feminization coaching as a service. Clients describe her sessions as digestible, fun, thorough, and easy to follow even if you don’t understand the mechanics of voice. Sophie brings to her practice a sense of care, compassion, and a deep, personal understanding of the frustration and hurt that can come from gender dysphoria. She will work hard to help you find a voice that affirms your gender and alleviates your dysphoria.
FreePlay Toronto — Nominee
Freeplay Toronto is a nostalgic haven for all ages, where the past meets the present in a vibrant, retro-themed arcade bar. At Freeplay, we’re passionate about preserving the joy of yesteryears by offering a diverse selection of classic arcade games and vintage consoles, all free to play. Our doors are open to all, creating a warm and inclusive environment where everyone is embraced and celebrated, regardless of their background, age, gender, or identity. Freeplay proudly collaborates with numerous LGBTQ+ organizations, wholeheartedly supporting their invaluable work and hosting inclusive events to champion diversity and equality. Beyond being a bar and arcade, Freeplay is a community gathering spot, uniting individuals from diverse backgrounds to create lasting memories and share their passion for retro gaming.
Sweaty Betty’s - Nominee
May Brand is the owner of Sweaty Betty’s, a 19 year old west end Toronto institution on the trendy Ossington Strip. May has over 25 years in the industry, having started out bartending at some of queer Toronto’s best known institutions, including the Gladstone Hotel and The Beaver. May started out managing Sweaty Betty’s in 2008, May taking over as owner in 2018, a longtime dream of hers. May’s poured her blood, sweat and tears into keeping this iconic bar a safe space for everyone, especially with so few queer spaces in the west end of the city. The queer community came together to save the bar from near extinction during the lockdowns, with a viral GoFundMe and a zoom fundraising party. May and Sweaty’s have been prioritizing giving back to the queer community ever since, from fundraising for local and international charities, to supporting community events, to creating safe spaces for LGBTQ2+ people and of course throwing fabulous parties.
☆ Here to Help – Recipient ☆
Established in 2021, H2H was created by the city as a response to the unmet needs of 2 downtown east neighbourhoods, Church and Wellesley Corridor and the Moss Park area. Services include daily street outreach and check-ins, rapid response, crisis intervention, de-escalation, harm reduction, wound care and short-term case management follow-up while incorporating a trauma- informed understanding of marginalized communities, including a strong analysis of anti- Indigenous and anti-Black racism in all aspects of the project from hiring, project development to implementation and data collection. The work and success of the H2H team have been acknowledged and recognized by the community for their provision of exceptional service, improved community safety and diversion from unneeded police interactions. The H2H team provides a dedicated access line for community stakeholders to reach the team.
Roseneath Theatre - Nominee
Roseneath Theatre is a professional theatre company delivering artistically excellent original Canadian productions that engage and inspire young audiences. Our plays address provocative issues relevant to today’s youth encouraging them to reflect on themselves and their place within the community. Our 40th Anniversary Season celebrates our ground- breaking work by bringing back two queer productions: Outside – which encourages safe spaces for 2SLGBTQ+ teens, and Ladies and Gentlemen Boys and Girls – which is about a gender queer young person discovering their gender identity. Roseneath Theatre is the only company producing queer content for all grade levels at a time when concerns for the safety of 2SLGBTQ+ people and students are at an all-time high. Roseneath is committed to artistic work that promotes social justice and challenges young people to have constructive dialogue that creates meaningful change in their communities. We welcome the complex conversations that these stories encourage and we invite young people and the adults who care for and educate them to join us in moving forward together. Roseneath Theatre is a queer led organization and a proud recipient of multiple Rainbow Grants from the Community One Foundation for our productions that elevate queer artists and their stories.
Blockorama/Blackness Yes! – Nominee
Blackness Yes! is a community-based committee that works year-round to celebrate and affirm Black Queer and Trans history, creativity, and resistance. Our mandate has been to create a space for LGBTTI2QQS folks of Black, Caribbean and/or African decent/Diaspora and their friends and families, specifically at Toronto’s Pride festivities and more recently year-round in Toronto. We are committed to anti-oppression, self-love (loving all of ourselves) freedom and justice. We started as a response to invisibility and lack of programming by and for Black, Caribbean and African Diasporic people at Pride. We remain a space of resistance- against the racism and systemic Transphobia inherent in Pride specifically and in society at large.
Supporting Our Youth, a Program of Sherbourne Health – Nominee
Sherbourne Health’s Supporting Our Youth (SOY) program is an innovative community development initiative for 2SLBTQ youth aged 29 and under. Committed to youth empowerment, inclusivity, and diversity, SOY offers a safe and welcoming space where young people can find support, build community, and access essential resources. At the core of SOY there is a dedicated team of professionals who possess a deep understanding of the unique challenges faced by 2SLGBTQ youth. They provide a wide array of services, including mental health support, health promotion workshops, recreational activities, daily drop-in sessions, and one-on one support. These services enable 2SLGBTQ youth, many of whom are experiencing homelessness, racialized and newcomers to Canada, to embrace their identities, navigate the complexities of adolescence, and develop the skills necessary for a promising future. Through SOY, participants learn to celebrate their identities and develop the resilience required to thrive in a world that may not always be accepting. Sherbourne Health’s Supporting Our Youth program serves as a beacon of hope, ensuring that 2SLGBTQ youth receive the support, community and resources they need to thrive while promoting a more inclusive and accepting health care for all.
RexPride – Nominee
The REX Pride program supports the 2SLGBTQ+ youth, 12-24 y/o, in the Rexdale/North Etobicoke community. This is accomplished through our peer support program called QMAP (Queer Media Arts Program) which leverages partnerships and utilizes various forms of art to develop creative, youth driven activities, as a means of expression and exploration of identity in a safe, healthy and guided manner. Through case management we connect the youth to whatever information, support and services they may need. Whenever possible, we refer within Rexdale CHC (ie. mental health and primary care) and when we don’t have capacity, we connect them to our network of partners that can assist and support through inclusive, supportive and low- barrier services. Finally, educating and advocating through our CEE (Community Engagement and Education) program is another aspect of the REX Pride program. Supporting the local community through programming, advising and training, we hope to create a ripple effect and make North Etobicoke more inclusive and safer. We also sit on various committees (TPS, TDSB and City of Toronto) informing larger institutions of the unique challenges and barriers faced by our marginalized community through intersectional, systemic barriers.