The opening of SaskQTY has been a long time coming for UR Pride executive director Jacq Brasseur. The newly opened centre, located in the 2100 block of Albert Street, aims to be a community hub for queer and trans youth.
“When I got the call I was in a bank, I almost started crying. It was unbelievable,” Brasseur said, recalling the phone call about the successful grant application.
SaskQTY secured a one-year operating grant from the Canada Service Corps, a federal agency aimed at building community, leadership and employment skills in people aged 14 to 30 years old.
Brasseur learned the value of being able to build a strong community at a young age while growing up in Yellowknife, and they want to help bring that to Saskatchewan’s LGBTQ youth.
“I grew up in a small town where I was sort of the only one – one of the few LGBTQ youth, and I found a way to build a community with amazing people across Yellowknife and across the Northwest Territories, so I think offering the opportunity for LGBTQ youth in Saskatchewan to do something similar is really awesome,” Brasseur said.
SaskQTY is expected to play host to a wide variety of functions; everything from activism work, cooking classes, and even just a place to gather with other LGBTQ youth.
The centre’s program director, Raphaële Frigon, was helped greatly by finding her place in the LGBTQ community growing up.
“If you asked me ten years ago, ‘what do you think you’d be doing’; I never would have been able to tell you,” she said.
“Literally for me, queer and trans organizing saved my life, and I hope that it will do the same for Saskatchewan queer youth – that we’ll be able to help them realize themselves together.”
This kind of help is central to SaskQTY’s mission. While acceptance of the LGBTQ community has improved significantly in the past several years – growing up queer or trans can still be very isolating.
“There are high rates of homelessness, high rates of underemployment, high rates of depression among trans and queer youth in Saskatchewan, and this program wants to give them tools for employability, but also just to improve self-image,” Frigon said.
SaskQTY has funding secured through March 2020. The group will be looking to find additional funding streams to continue its programming into the future.