Plans are underway to create Canada’s First 2SLGBTQ+ Addiction Recovery Centre right here in Calgary.
Growing up in Alberta, Dawson Clark never felt safe enough to be completely honest about personal sexual and gender identity, as two-spirited.
“I remember when I was a kid growing up it was a dirty little secret. I was alone. It was like being an island unto myself,” Clark said.
Ten years ago when Clark started the recovery journey, keeping personal sexual and gender identity a secret was a must, just for survival.
“I had been in recovery for eight years, and I never once heard my story,” Clark said.
“Could you imagine people who are coming into recovery who go to an all-male treatment centre because it’s the only one that’s available at that time? If they’re bisexual or if they’re in a different situation they can’t be completely honest because of the stigma,” Clark said.
But the people behind a new Calgary centre plan to change that.
Stonewall Recovery Centre will provide a safe space for 2SLGBTQ+ community members to get help for addictions. Stonewall will be specifically focused on the community — a safe space where people can feel more supported and understood.
Steve Archambault, one of the centres co-founders, points to statistics that show addiction and trauma within the queer community is 14 times that of the heterosexual community.
Archambault said many people don’t get help because of fear of who they might be in recovery with.
“The same people who are protesting us today also need recovery, but how do you feel safe when you are sitting next to them and disclosing your story and trauma and the person actually thinks you shouldn’t exist,” Archambault said.
Because of the religious trauma within the queer community, some members don’t feel comfortable going to places that have the religious component in recovery, he said.
Kendall Gender is a Vancouver drag queen who will be performing at the Stonewall fundraiser on Mar. 10 in Calgary
“It’s nice to have this idea of a space where we don’t have to explain ourselves,” Gender said.
She’s been sober for years now but says her recovery would have likely been quicker with a place like Stonewall.
“I think that if there were a space like this, I absolutely would’ve gone through a treatment program in regards to it being in a center. We are really dealing with life or death when it comes to addiction and this centre idea can ultimately save a lot of lives,” Gender said.
“I’ve heard horror stories of friends of mine who have tried to get sober in certain different treatment centers and they didn’t always feel understood.”
Proceeds from the fundraiser will go towards buying a hotel that will become Stonewall’s permanent home.
Day programs are expected to start by the end of April.
The program is being set up as part of the Simon House Recovery Centre in Calgary.