Apology for discrimination faced by LGBTQ2 individuals, their families, and communities in Canada

The process

The Government of Canada is taking action to address the injustices experienced by LGBTQ2 individuals, their families and communities under federal legislation, policies, and programs.

An advisory council has been created to assist in this process. This advisory council will work with Member of Parliament Randy Boissonnault, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 Issues, on the formulation of an inclusive and meaningful apology directed at Canadians harmed by these policies.

The advisory council is composed of 11 Canadians whose perspectives are informed by their lived experience, knowledge, expertise, and links to LGBTQ2 communities. 

The committee
Randy Boissonnault
Randy Boissonnault

Randy Boissonnault is the Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre and the Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 Issues.

Prior to his election, Randy was a successful entrepreneur, community leader, and philanthropist. He has a strong record of leadership in business, in public service, and in the not-for-profit sector.

Randy discovered his passion for leadership and public service at the University of Alberta, where he served as President of the Students’ Union. Since studying at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, Randy has worked as a lecturer at the University of Alberta’s Campus Saint-Jean, and as a journalist and political commentator for CBC Radio-Canada and Les Affaires. Randy also owned and led a consulting business that helped small- and medium-sized businesses overcome their strategy and management challenges.

A proud Rotarian, Randy has a long history of charitable work, both locally in Edmonton and abroad. He founded Literacy Without Borders, an international NGO devoted to promoting literacy for both children and adults in the developing world and in Canada. He has also served as Vice Chair of TEDx Edmonton and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Francophone Economic Council of Alberta, the Francophone Sport Federation of Alberta, and the Canadian Francophone Games. He was one of the 50 founders of Startup Edmonton and was a finisher of the Ironman Canada Triathlon.


Albert McLeod
Albert McLeod

Albert McLeod is a Status Indian with ancestry from Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and the Metis community of Norway House in northern Manitoba. He has over thirty years of experience as a human rights activist and is one of the directors of the Two-Spirited People of Manitoba. Albert lives in Winnipeg, where he works as a consultant specializing in HIV/AIDS and Indigenous peoples, cultural reclamation, and cross-cultural training.


Svend Robinson
Svend Robinson

Svend was the first openly gay MP in Canada, and one of the first in the world, coming out in 1988. He served in the federal Parliament from 1979 to 2004. For the past decade he has coordinated Parliamentary relations for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, based in Switzerland. Svend has many years of LGBT advocacy in Canada and internationally, including with IGLHRC, Human Rights Watch, and Co-Chairing the 2009 Gay Games Human Rights Conference in Copenhagen. Recipient of many honours and awards for human rights advocacy.  Svend lives between Cyprus, Spain and Canada with his partner Max and their dog Cohiba.


Helen Kennedy
Helen Kennedy

Helen Kennedy became Egale’s Executive Director in 2007. She is the first woman to hold the position. She joined the organization with 22 years of experience in politics both as an elected city councillor and a political staffer. She is a founding member of Canadians for Equal Marriage, widely regarded as the most influential public policy lobbying campaign in Canadian history – which ultimately resulted in Canada being one of the first countries in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Helen’s work includes the Climate Survey on Homophobia and Transphobia in Canadian Schools, the first national survey of its kind in Canada, and provides critical findings on bullying to schools, educators and governments. She has delivered training to Immigration Refugee Adjudicators and police services across Canada and the Balkans. At the invitation of the US Department of Defence, Helen consulted with senior Pentagon officials in Washington on the US military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. She is Co-Secretary General of the International Gay, Lesbian, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). ILGA is a worldwide federation of 1100 member organisations from 110 countries campaigning for LGBTI rights since 1978. Helen is also a member of the Ontario Ministry of Education Student Well Being Committee and Premier Wynne’s Roundtable on Violence against Women.


Laurent Maurice Lafontant
Laurent Maurice Lafontant

Laurent Maurice Lafontant is a young Canadian of Haitian origin who arrived in Quebec in 2001. In 2008, he received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Concordia University in Montreal with a double major in film studies and literary studies. Since 2008, Laurent has been involved in the LGBTQ2 community, working with Gris-Montréal and volunteering at Arc-en-ciel d’Afrique, where he was responsible for the youth committee. He directed two short documentaries on the issue of homosexuality within Montreal’s black communities: Être soi-même (2012) and Au-delà des images (2014). He coordinated Crie ton art! (2015) with 15 other young people aged 16–30 to discuss sexual diversity within Montreal’s cultural communities. Laurent is also the coordinator for Massimadi, an Afro-Caribbean LGBTQ film and arts festival.


Marni Panas
Marni Panas

Marni Panas is a Senior Advisor Diversity and Inclusion with one of Canada’s largest employers where she is co-leading the development and implementation of a diversity and inclusion plan aimed at creating safe, welcoming and inclusive environments for employees, patients and families. She has recently received her Bachelor’s degree in Health Administration and is currently working towards her graduate degree with a focus on equity studies.

Marni was invited as a witness to provide testimony to the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs regarding Bill C16 (An Act to amend Canada’s Human Rights Act and Criminal Code) which received Royal Assent on June 19, 2017. She was also part of the work that led to Gender Identity and Gender Expression being added as protected grounds from discrimination to Alberta’s Human Rights Act. She was part of an expert panel that assisted in developing guidelines to support school boards in Alberta in creating policies that would provide safe and welcoming environments for LGBTQ students, families and staff. Marni has been invited to share her experiences and expertise inclusive health and cultural safety for LGBTQ* patients and their families locally, nationally and internationally. She is a regular lecturer at Edmonton’s universities. She has consulted with various public and private organizations in the development of inclusive spaces and services for our diverse population. She often appears in local and national media discussing a variety of topics that affect the community in which she lives. Marni has also been asked to share her views and experiences internationally on CNN and The BBC.

As an engaged member of her community, she received the Human Rights award from the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights and nominated as an Edmonton YWCA Woman of Distinction for her commitment to creating a community where diversity is not only accepted, but celebrated. A community that is safe for others to be their authentic selves.

Marni is also a transgender woman, who has completed her transition socially and professionally in April, 2014. She has been very transparent throughout her journey in the hopes of fostering acceptance through education and respectful dialogue.


Kate Shewan
Kate Shewan

Kate Shewan is the Executive Director of the Youth Project, an organization providing support, resources, education and social support for youth in Nova Scotia around the areas of sexual orientation and gender identity. Active in the LGBTQ2+ community for many years, she is a strong advocate for the advancement of LGBTQ2+ rights. Kate also volunteers as treasurer of the Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health (CPATH) and previously served as chair of the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project ("NSRAP"), an LGBTQ advocacy organization in Nova Scotia.


Marie-Laure Leclercq
Marie-Laure Leclercq

Called to the Barreau du Québec in 1981, Marie Laure has a broad academic background, including engineering, law, and business. Her current practice is focused on all legal aspects related to intellectual property and technology matters, including patents, trademarks, copyright (software, Internet and entertainment law) and industrial designs (Best Lawyers in Canada® (2016 and 2017).

A trailblazer and pillar of the LGBTT community, she has, through her work at the CBA and other community organizations, served as an example and role model for countless trans people seeking their way through unwelcoming professional environments.

“Marie Laure has demonstrated a longstanding commitment of extraordinary advocacy and support of the LGBTT community, including her continued passion and dedication to the Canadian Bar Association,” says Nicole Nussbaum, chair of SOGIC.  

As the first member of a major Montréal law firm to transition in 2001 while practising, Marie Laure Leclercq’s personal and professional journey has made a difference for the LGBTT community.

Marie Laure Leclercq’s unabated commitment to improving diversity and inclusion for the LGBT community was first exemplified in the major role she played in the organization of the first World Outgames held in Montréal in 2006 – the largest international sports event to be held in the City since the 1976 Summer Olympics, with more than 12,000 athletes, economic spinoffs of about $170 million and a huge social impact. Active as the main legal negotiator with the Federation of Gay Games, but also as instigator of the creation of GLISA, an international federation of LGBT athletes, now present on most continents, with more than 20,000 members, Marie Laure acted as director of the Montreal’s Outgames corporation responsible for the organization of the event. She was also a member of the International Scientific Committee for the Conference on LGBT Human Rights, held in conjunction with the First Outgames 2006 edition: she co-signed the important Declaration of Montréal, outlining a number of rights and freedoms pertaining to the LGBT, that is still a reference in 2016.

Her second major involvement is in her leadership role at the Quebec Gay Chamber of Commerce (QGCC), the largest LGBT chamber of commerce in Canada, with more than 600 individual and corporate members. Involved as director and vice-president for numerous years. In 2015, she was re-elected as director and corporate secretary. In that role, she had a constant leadership role to advance the LGBT perception in the business community.

However, Marie Laure’s most important work for the LGBT community has been at the Canadian Bar Association. First as President of its Equality Committee, she then assumed prominent leadership roles within the Québec Branch, up to 2008-2010 as President of the Québec Branch.

She previously spearheaded in 2007 the creation of the Québec Branch of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference (CORIS in French), which she co-chaired until 2015, while sitting on the national SOGIC Executive. There, she organized legal training sessions concerning several legal LGBT topics on family, international and HIV decriminalization. Also, as member of the Quebec CBA’s Legislation and Law Reform Committee, she had an advising role in the adoption of recent important Quebec legislative development with regard to the condition of trans people.

Marie Laure’s commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion has often been recognized by the legal profession and the LGBT business community.

She was twice granted the Professional Phénicia Award, first in 2009 and then in 2014, as "Exceptional Professional". These Quebec Gay Chamber of Commerce’s awards are designed to acknowledge the contribution of prominent people in the LGBT community to fostering entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity and involvement in a business environment.

In 2016, Marie Laure won the National Canadian Bar Association’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Community (SOGIC) Hero Award, which recognizes her unrelenting commitment to defending and promoting the interests of the LGBT community. On this occasion, the President of De Grandpré Chait, Eric Lalanne, said: "Marie Laure has dedicated a large part of her professional life to ensuring equality for all members of the LGBT community, not only in the legal profession but also in other organizations."

She is also the recipient of the 2016 Jules-Deschênes Award, Canadian Bar Association, Québec Branch, and of the 2016 Lexpert Zenith Award: Celebrating Diversity and Inclusion.

In 2017, she was invited to present CBA’s position to the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs regarding Bill C-16.


Sue Genge
Sue Genge

Following an education in activism, protest and general agitation at Trent University, Sue worked for many years as a Library Assistant at the Metro Toronto Reference Library. She was President of her CUPE Local during the 1984 strike and went on to represent members with the Canadian Union of Education Workers.

In 1988, Sue was appointed to the Ontario Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal where she served as an employee sidesperson.  She then worked as a National Representative in the Women’s and Human Rights Department of the Canadian Labour Congress for sixteen years. At the CLC, Sue was responsible for the LGBT portfolio which included developing policy for the inclusion of sexual orientation in human rights legislation, same-sex benefits and equal marriage rights. She is the author and editor of several publications including material for unions on workers in gender transition and a guide for LGBT allies.

Sue has spent a lifetime developing and advancing an inclusive human rights agenda that protects all working people from discrimination and fights for the dignity of the LGBT community.


Reverend Gary Paterson
Reverend Gary Paterson

Gary Paterson calls Vancouver home, with roots going back to early farmers in the late 19th century. He has been an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada for 40 years, and is currently at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, the downtown cathedral-like church in Vancouver. In 2012, Gary was elected to be the Moderator of the United Church for a three-year term, the first openly-gay leader of a mainstream denomination. He is married to Rev. Tim Stevenson, a Vancouver City Councillor (they celebrated their 35th anniversary last June). They have three daughters from Gary’s previous marriage, and four grandchildren.


Shelley Colter
Shelley Colter

Shelley Colter graduated from Carleton University in 1985 with an undergrad degree in Administrative Law and joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1990 as a direct entry officer. In 1991 she completed her second language training at the language school in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and 1992 she was transferred to 22 Wing North Bay where completed her training as an air weapons controller and was employed as a weapons director. In 1994 Shelley was deployed with Operation Deny Flight as part of the NATO enforcement of the no-fly zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In 1995 she was promoted to the rank of captain and transferred to the operational training unit in North Bay where she was employed as an instructor of weapons controllers. In 1996 Shelley was one of the leading group of officers to train as the new occupation of aerospace controllers and was transferred to 4 Wing Cold where she was then employed as a tower controller with Wing Operations. In 1999 she deployed to the Central African Republic as a UN peacekeeper as part of MINURCA/Op Prudence. Upon her return she completed her training as an radar controller and became the first officer in the CAF to control in the weapons, tactical, tower and radar environments. In June 2001 she became the Combat Operations Centre Officer for 4 Wing and was on duty with deployed operations during the events of September 11th, 2001.

In 2004 Shelley was transferred to Tinker Air Force Base where she was employed as an air surveillance officer with the 965th Airborne Warning Squadron, and in 2005 she was promoted to major and moved to Ottawa where she held the position of Operations Officer at the CAF Electronic Warfare Centre. In 2008 she was posted to Canada Command where she became the deputy director of the Joint Command Centre for Canadian domestic operations and oversaw events such as the Vancouver Olympics and the Toronto G8/G20 summit. In 2010 Shelley completed her final transfer to the Directorate of Air Requirements where she assumed the CC17 Globemaster Project. In 2014, after almost 24 years of service Shelley retired from the RCAF as a major and returned to school. In 2015 she completed her Master of Arts in Counselling and Spirituality at Saint Paul University in Ottawa and opened up her own practice in the Ottawa area.



“Our government believes in the equality and dignity of all Canadians regardless of whom they love or how they express who they are. To move forward in our fight against intolerance we must acknowledge past harms done to the LGBTQ2 community.”

‑ Randy Boissonnault, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 Issues

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