Vancouver Queer Film Festival


Remarks for Randy Boissonnault
Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 Issues
at the
Vancouver Queer Film Festival

August 17, 2017

Check against delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the Government of Canada’s official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with its communications policy.

Good evening everyone and thank you, Joy, for the introduction!

I’m honoured to speak to you today on the unceded Coast Salish territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.

And I want to say how proud I am that our government, through Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council, and – this year for the first time ever -- Telefilm Canada, enthusiastically supports what you do.

Politicians can give speeches, march in Pride parades, and enact important legislation.

But it is important to remember that organizations like yours are also vital in affecting real change in our society.

Since your start 29 years ago in a West End apartment, the festival and the filmmakers you work with have entertained audiences while providing illuminating insights into LGBTQ2 life in Canada and around the world.

And because of this you make the stories of our communities’ increasingly important components of the Canadian tapestry.

You draw out voices we wouldn’t otherwise hear. And so often those voices serve to inspire us.

Think of Milan Halikowski.

Milan, as those of you know, is a trans teenager living in Prince George. He and his family were featured in a short documentary here last summer called Handsome and Majestic.

Was there a dry eye when the credits rolled? This film is now being used to as an educational source in our schools. This is huge.

You help us continue to define our evolving national identity and share with the world some of our most cherished values.

What a lineup you have this year! You’ve invited audiences to climb into a van for a ride across America with five remarkable women.  Or audiences could take a virtual voyage from Lisbon to the Canary Islands aboard the Dream Boat.

And tonight you will see two important documentaries focussing on LGBTQ2 immigrants and refugees.

These films provide us a forum to show the world who we are, and the importance of that can never be underestimated.

The films at festivals like this one make us laugh, make us angry, make us cry.

Stephanie asked me to talk to you a bit about my role, and my goals.

Last November, when Prime Minister Trudeau appointed me to this role, he said our government has three goals.

Promote equality.

Protect the rights of members of our communities.

And directly address discrimination – both historical and current.

In June, when we raised the Pride and Transgender flags on Parliament Hill, Prime Minister Trudeau made a firm promise.

He said our government will formally apologize in an inclusive and meaningful way for the injustices experienced by LGBTQ2 individuals, their families, partners, and communities under federal policies, legislation, and programs.

That work is underway. But that’s not all.

In June, Parliament changed the Canadian Human Rights Act and our Criminal Code to protect transgender Canadians from discrimination and hate crimes.

And we have taken initial steps to eliminate the bias in the Criminal Code against consensual same-sex sexual activity.

The government is also working to change its approach when asking Canadians for gender or sex information.

We want to help transgender and non-binary individuals live according to their gender identity.

But governments, laws and policies can only do so much. We know the significant role that organizations like yours, and events like these, play in helping to change people’s attitudes and beliefs.

So congratulations to the organizers, creators and supporters who make this festival happen. You bring to life the unforgettable, beautiful stories about our lives.

Thank you.

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