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New Shuswap not-for-profit Essie’s Place offers LGBTQ2 community support

Click to play video: 'Not-for-profit offers community in Shuswap support' Not-for-profit offers community in Shuswap support
A not-for-profit has been created to support a marginalized community in the Shuswap. Sydney Morton tells us about Essie's Place and the story behind it – May 15, 2021

A new not for profit is working to fill a much-needed gap in services for the LGBTQ2 community in the Shuswap.

“From coast to coast it became really clear to me that feeling unsafe as someone in our community is prevalent in most places,” said Jeanne Rokosh, founder of Essie’s Place.

“Feeling unsafe is everything, from the fear of losing one’s job because they find out you are gay or going out and [someone] spinning [their] tires out on the rainbow crosswalk.”
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Rokosh decided to take steps toward creating a space where people can feel safe called Essie’s Place, named after her late partner that will be holding a few information sessions in a place of worship.

Read more: Community invests in LGBTQ2 teens with Kelowna program

“She [Essie] never felt safe in her life, there was a lot of complexity,” said Rokosh.

In honour of her memory, Rokosh is hoping to create and foster comfortable places for people of diverse genders and sexuality to be themselves.

Their first order of business is making sure that as many community members as possible fill out their anonymous and safe surveys to help the not-for-profit identify what supports are needed the most.

Read more: Emerging LGBTQ2 musicians highlighted in Kelowna, B.C., concert series

“We want to know do you find a safe space out here, who is your support group, are you finding that there are doctors who are supportive we just want to know what your quality of life is,” said Daylene Fleming, program coordinatior at Essie’s Place.

Fleming says the most requested resource right now from people she has spoken to is friendship.

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“I have parents phoning me up saying, ‘Do you have anybody who my kid can be friends with? Because they have lost all their friends since coming out,'” said Fleming.

“All they are really asking if are they able to be my friends without being transphobic or homophobic, and that’s really not a big ask.”

To complete the survey or find out more information about Essie’s Place, visit www.essiesplace.ca.

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Up and coming musicians highlighted in Okanagan online concert series – Jun 16, 2020

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