Saskatoon group alleges discrimination prompted fundraising venue change

Click to play video: 'Saskatoon group claims it’s been discriminated against based on sexual orientation' Saskatoon group claims it’s been discriminated against based on sexual orientation
WATCH ABOVE: Saskatoon's Catholic school division denies a facility change for a fundraiser had anything to do with education programming by a health organization. Joel Senick reports – Apr 28, 2017

The executive director of Sexual Health Centre Saskatoon is alleging the venue for its fundraiser was changed by the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (GSCS) division due to discrimination.

Jillian Schwandt said in an interview Friday that the group was set to hold a dodgeball tournament fundraiser on Saturday at Georges Vanier Catholic Fine Arts School.

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However, she said administrators told her Thursday that the venue would have to be changed. The switch came after she had a conversation with the school’s principal about what programming her group offers.

“The principal had asked me about what some of the funds of the event would be supporting and I mentioned that we have some programming for young men around healthy relationships, communication and masculinity,” Schwandt said.

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“She seemed quite interested in the program so she actually called me back to get some additional details about what we were offering.”

Schwandt said once the principal found out some of the programming’s content focused on homosexuality, “the tenor of the conversation changed.”

“I received another phone call from the facilities manager about a half-an-hour later, who indicated that we would not be able to do the event at Georges Vanier,” Schwandt said.

“The facilities manager alluded to there being ‘other concerns’ which I took as a reference to the conversation that I had with the principal around the content of the programming.”

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However, GSCS is pushing back against the allegation. In a statement, Joel Lloyd, the superintendent of administrative services, said the venue change “is a facilities booking issue, not a position we are taking against the sponsoring group.”

“We’ve tried to work with the group to find appropriate space within the division,” the statement read.

“Recognizing these changes create logistical problems for the group, we offered a reduced rate.”

Lloyd said officials determined the event would be more appropriately held at the Saskatoon French School, which the division offered to Schwandt. However, she declined. A spokesperson also added the decision to change the venue was made at the division level, not by the school’s principal.

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The tournament will still take place on Saturday, but at a different venue, according to Schwandt. Roughly 160 people are expected to attend.

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