Apology to LGBTQ2 communities

On November 28, 2017, the Prime Minister delivered a formal apology in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister apologized specifically for the historical unjust treatment of LGBTQ2 federal public servants, including those in the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP, and of LGBTQ2 Indigenous Peoples.


Remarks by the special advisor to the PM on the anniversary of the LGBTQ2 apology

Transcript

Anniversary of the apology to LGBTQ2 Canadians

One year.

That is the time that has passed since the Prime Minister delivered his historic apology to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians. The Prime Minister reflected on livelihoods lost. Dignity lost. Lives lost. This is our history. As the Prime Minister promised that day, it shall not be our future. The Government of Canada promotes an inclusive society that works for all our citizens. We are committed to engaging with and listening to vulnerable individuals.

That commitment is demonstrated by our work to redress past injustices, such as the shameful ‘LGBT Purge.’ Work is now underway to implement the reconciliation and memorialization measures following the settlement of the class action.  We have taken action toward the expungement of convictions for acts that would be legal today.  Since the apology, we have been working actively with communities to build capacity and network individuals and organizations across the country to better meet the needs of LGBTQ2 Canadians. 

We are extending our reach beyond our borders, actively promoting LGBTI trade and promoting human rights through Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy. We are providing greater assistance and funding to refugees and to vulnerable individuals in regions of conflict. We are speaking up for human rights as co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition. The formal apology delivered by the Prime Minister one year ago has resonated with communities across the globe. It has been recognized as a reckoning. An awaking. A calling-out of harassment, oppression and exclusion. We have apologized. We have engaged. Progress made so far is a result of the courage of trailblazers past and present. 

Together, we commit to continue this work to ensure that our Canada is one where we are all free to be who we are.

Watch as PM Trudeau delivers an apology to LGBTQ2 Canadians in the House of Commons

Transcript

Mr. Speaker –

One of the greatest choices a person can make in their life is the choice to serve their fellow citizens. Maybe it’s in government, in the military, or in a police force. In whatever capacity one serves, dedicating your life to making Canada – and indeed, the world – a better place is a calling of the highest order. Now imagine, if you will, being told that the very country you would willingly lay down your life to defend doesn’t want you. Doesn’t accept you. Sees you as defective. Sees you as a threat to our national security. Not because you can’t do the job, or because you lack patriotism or courage – no, because of who you are as a person, and because of who your sexual partners are.

Now imagine, Mr. Speaker, being subjected to laws, policies, and hiring practices that label you as different – as “less than”. Imagine having to fight for the basic rights that your peers enjoy, over and over again. And imagine being criminalized for being who you are. This is the truth for many of the Canadians present in the Gallery today, and those listening across the country. This is the devastating story of people who were branded criminals by the government. People who lost their livelihoods, and in some cases, their lives. These aren’t distant practices of Governments long forgotten. This happened systematically, in Canada, with a timeline more recent than any of us would like to admit.

Mr. Speaker, today we acknowledge an often-overlooked part of Canada’s history. Today, we finally talk about Canada’s role in the systemic oppression, criminalization, and violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit communities. And it is my hope that in talking about these injustices, vowing to never repeat them, and acting to right these wrongs, we can begin to heal. Since arriving on these shores, settlers to this land brought with them foreign standards of right and wrong – of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Suitable and unsuitable partnerships.

They brought rigid gender norms – norms that manifested in homophobia and transphobia. Norms that saw the near-destruction of Indigenous LGBTQ and two-spirit identities. People who were once revered for their identities found themselves shamed for who they were. They were rejected and left vulnerable to violence. And discrimination against LGBTQ2 communities was quickly codified in criminal offences like “buggery”, “gross indecency”, and bawdy house provisions. Bathhouses were raided, people were entrapped by police.

Our laws bolstered and emboldened those who wanted to attack non-conforming sexual desire. Our laws made private and consensual sex between same-sex partners a criminal offence, leading to the unjust arrest, conviction, and imprisonment of Canadians. This criminalization would have lasting impacts for things like employment, volunteering, and travel. Those arrested and charged were purposefully and vindictively shamed. Their names appeared in newspapers in order to humiliate them, and their families.

Lives were destroyed. And tragically, lives were lost. And this didn’t end in 1969 with the partial decriminalization of homosexual sex. Up until 1988, a twenty year old gay man who had sex with another man could still be convicted of a crime. But the imprisonment and criminalization of LGBTQ2 individuals wasn’t the end of it. Other methods of oppression have been rampant throughout our society for generations. Homophobia during the time of the AIDS crisis generated hysteria and propagated fear of gay men. Books and magazines were stopped at the border under the guise of obscenity offences and customs regulations – the content of words and images deemed unacceptable.

And LGBTQ2 families have had to fight their own government for the right to benefits, and the freedom to marry, often at great personal cost. Over our history, laws and policies enacted by the government led to the legitimization of much more than inequality – they legitimized hatred and violence, and brought shame to those targeted. While we may view modern Canada as a forward-thinking, progressive nation, we can’t forget our past: The state orchestrated a culture of stigma and fear around LGBTQ2 communities. And in doing so, destroyed people’s lives.

Mr. Speaker, a Purge that lasted decades will forever remain a tragic act of discrimination suffered by Canadian citizens at the hands of their own government. From the 1950s to the early 1990s, the Government of Canada exercised its authority in a cruel and unjust manner, undertaking a campaign of oppression against members, and suspected members, of the LGBTQ2 communities. The goal was to identify these workers throughout the public service, including the foreign service, the military, and the RCMP, and persecute them.

You see, the thinking of the day was that all non-heterosexual Canadians would automatically be at an increased risk of blackmail by our adversaries due to what was called “character weakness”. This thinking was prejudiced and flawed. And sadly, what resulted was nothing short of a witch-hunt. The public service, the military, and the RCMP spied on their own people, inside and outside of the workplaces. Canadians were monitored for anything that could be construed as homosexual behaviour, with community groups, bars, parks, and even people’s homes constantly under watch. During this time, the federal government even dedicated funding to an absurd device known as the Fruit Machine – a failed technology that was supposed to measure homosexual attraction. This project was funded with the intention of using it against Canadians.

When the government felt that enough evidence had accumulated, some suspects were taken to secret locations in the dark of night to be interrogated. They were asked invasive questions about their relationships and sexual preferences. Hooked up to polygraph machines, these law-abiding public servants had the most intimate details of their lives cut open. Women and men were abused by their superiors, and asked demeaning, probing questions about their sex lives. Some were sexually assaulted. Those who admitted they were gay were fired, discharged, or intimidated into resignation. They lost dignity, lost careers, and had their dreams – and indeed, their lives – shattered.

Many were blackmailed to report their peers, forced to turn against their friends and colleagues. Some swore they would end their relationships if they could keep their jobs. Pushed deeper into the closet, they lost partners, friends, and dignity. Those who did not lose their jobs were demoted, had security clearances revoked, and were passed over for promotions. Under the harsh glare of the spotlight, people were forced to make an impossible choice between career and identity.

The very thing Canadian officials feared – blackmail of LGBTQ2 employees – was happening. But it wasn’t at the hands of our adversaries; it was at the hands of our own government. Mr. Speaker, the number one job of any government is to keep its citizens safe. And on this, we have failed LGBTQ2 people, time and time again. It is with shame and sorrow and deep regret for the things we have done that I stand here today and say: We were wrong. We apologize. I am sorry. We are sorry. For state-sponsored, systemic oppression and rejection, we are sorry.

For suppressing two-spirit Indigenous values and beliefs, we are sorry. For abusing the power of the law, and making criminals of citizens, we are sorry. For government censorship, and constant attempts to undermine your community-building; For denying you equality, and forcing you to constantly fight for this equality, often at great cost; For forcing you to live closeted lives, for rendering you invisible, and for making you feel ashamed – We are deeply sorry. We were so very wrong.

To all the LGBTQ2 people across this country who we have harmed in countless ways, we are sorry. To those who were left broken by a prejudiced system; And to those who took their own lives – we failed you. For stripping you of your dignity; For robbing you of your potential; For treating you like you were dangerous, indecent, and flawed; We are sorry.

To the victims of The Purge, who were surveilled, interrogated, and abused; Who were forced to turn on their friends and colleagues; Who lost wages, lost health, and lost loved ones; We betrayed you. And we are so sorry. To those who were fired, to those who resigned, and to those who stayed at a great personal and professional cost; To those who wanted to serve, but never got the chance to because of who you are – you should have been permitted to serve your country, and you were stripped of that option. We are sorry. We were wrong.

Indeed, all Canadians missed out on the important contributions you could have made to our society. You were not bad soldiers, sailors, airmen and women. You were not predators. And you were not criminals.

You served your country with integrity, and veterans you are. You are professionals. You are patriots. And above all, you are innocent. And for all your suffering, you deserve justice, and you deserve peace. It is our collective shame that you were so mistreated. And it is our collective shame that this apology took so long – many who suffered are no longer alive to hear these words. And for that, we are truly sorry. To the loved ones of those who suffered; To the partners, families, and friends of the people we harmed; For upending your lives, and for causing you such irreparable pain and grief – we are sorry.

And as we apologize for our painful mistakes, we must also say thank you to those who spoke up. To those who pushed back when it was unpopular, and even dangerous, to do so. People from across the country, from all walks of life, and of all political stripes. We stand here today in awe of your courage, and we thank you. We also thank members of the We Demand an Apology Network, our LGBTQ2 Apology Advisory Council, the Just Society Committee for Egale, as well as the individuals who have long advocated for this overdue apology. Through them, we’ve understood that we can’t simply paint over this part of our history. To erase this dark chapter would be a disservice to the community, and to all Canadians.

We will work with the academic community and stakeholders to ensure that this history is known and publically accessible. We must remember, and we will remember. We will honour and memorialize the legacy of those who fought before us in the face of unbearable hatred and danger. Mr. Speaker, it is my hope that we will look back on today as a turning point. But there is still much work to do. Discrimination against LGBTQ2 communities is not a moment in time, but an ongoing, centuries-old campaign. We want to be a partner and ally to LGBTQ2 Canadians in the years going forward. There are still real struggles facing these communities, including for those who are intersex, queer people of colour, and others who suffer from intersectional discrimination.

Transgender Canadians are subjected to discrimination, violence, and aggression at alarming rates. In fact, trans people didn’t even have explicit protection under federal human rights legislation until this year. Mental health issues and suicides are higher among LGBTQ2 youth as a result of discrimination and harassment, and the homelessness rates among these young people is staggering. And there is still work to do on blood and organ donation, and the over criminalization of HIV non-disclosure. The Government needs to continue working with our partners to improve policies and programs.

But there are important and significant changes coming – the repeal of section 159 of the Criminal Code is working its way through the House. And, Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that earlier today in this House we tabled the Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act. This will mean that Canadians previously convicted of consensual sexual activity with same-sex partners will have their criminal records permanently destroyed. Further, I am pleased to announce that over the course of the weekend, we reached an Agreement-in-Principle with those involved in the class action lawsuit for actions related to “The Purge”.

Never again will our government be the source of so much pain for members of the LGBTQ2 communities. We promise to consult and work with individuals and communities to right these wrongs and begin to rebuild trust. We will ensure that there are systems in place so that these kinds of hateful practices are a thing of the past. Discrimination and oppression of LGBTQ2 Canadians will not be tolerated anymore. With dialogue and with understanding, we will move forward together. But we can’t do it alone.

The changing of hearts and minds is a collective effort. We need to work together, across jurisdictions, with Indigenous peoples and LGBTQ2 communities, to make the crucial progress that LGBTQ2 Canadians deserve. Mr. Speaker, Canada’s history is far from perfect. But we believe in acknowledging and righting past wrongs so that we can learn from them. For all our differences, for all our diversity, we can find love and support in our common humanity. We’re Canadians, and we want the very best for each other, regardless of our sexual orientation, or our gender identity and expression. We will support one another in our fight for equality. And Canada will stand tall on the international stage as we proudly advocate for equal rights for LGBTQ2 communities around the world.

To the kids who are listening at home and who fear rejection because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity and expression; And to those who are nervous and scared, but also excited at what their future might hold; We are all worthy of love, and deserving of respect. And whether you discover your truth at 6 or 16 or 60, who you are is valid. To members of the LGBTQ2 communities, young and old, here in Canada and around the world: You are loved. And we support you. Canada gets a little bit stronger every day that we choose to embrace, and to celebrate, who we are in all our uniqueness. We are a diverse nation, and we are enriched by the lives, experiences, and contributions of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit.

To the trailblazers who have lived and struggled, and to those who have fought so hard to get us to this place: thank you for your courage, and thank you for lending your voices. I hope you look back on all you have done with pride. It is because of your courage that we’re here today, together, and reminding ourselves that we can, and must, do better. For the oppression of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit communities, we apologize. On behalf of the government, Parliament, and the people of Canada: We were wrong. We are sorry. And we will never let this happen again.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

LGBTQ2 apology reflections by the special advisor to the PM

Transcript

In Canada, we take pride in building a more just society, not just for us now, but for future generations. In making progress, sometimes we have to pause and recognize our mistakes. And that is exactly what Prime Minister Trudeau did recently when he made a historic apology to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit people for the policies, procedures and legislation of the Government of Canada. Those policies punished people because of who they were, and whom they loved.

For years our justice system treated LGBTQ2 people as dangerous sexual offenders – and made criminals of citizens who had done nothing wrong. Our immigration system prevented LGBTQ2 people from coming to our country. And, as an employer, the Government of Canada, until the early 1990s, forced loyal and dedicated public servants, members of the Armed Forces, and the RCMP, out of their careers simply because they were gay or lesbian.

After choosing to serve their country, their government characterized them as outsiders who were dangerous and indecent. These negative attitudes about LGBTQ2 communities date back to the earliest days of colonization. They led to the near-destruction of traditional Indigenous two-spirit identities. I hope you will join us as we recognize these past wrongs, and work together on a better way forward.

As the Prime Minister said, our history is imperfect -- but we are a nation of compassion and progress. Members of our LGBTQ2 communities, including youth and seniors, still suffer from discrimination and stigma at a tremendous cost. Let us unite in our common identity and humanity to ensure that all Canadians feel they are a part of the great Canadian family.


The process

An advisory council was created to 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 federal legislation, policies, and programs.

The advisory council was composed of 11 Canadians whose perspectives have been 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.


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