March 13, 2019

Among Friends Initiative

  • A 3 year training and capacity building initiative that worked with other community-based agencies to create positive and inclusive spaces for LGBTQ newcomer.
  • Trainings, workshops and resources were provided to these agencies by LGBTQ newcomer volunteers.

“You Are Among Friends” LGBTQ+ Newcomer Booklet

Download and view a copy of the booklet here

On Wednesday, March 30th, 2011, the Among Friends Initiative launched their ‘You Are Among Friends’ booklet – a collection of stories, experiences, resources and information shared by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ+) newcomer communities.

“This initiative has immensely empowered me to come out as a gay newcomer and talk openly about the issues related to people like myself,” Ranjith Kulatilake, Among Friends volunteer/ LGBTQ+ newcomer community member.

Between 2010 and 2011, LGBTQ+ newcomers came together to develop a booklet that would highlight their lives as immigrants and refugees to Canada who are also part of the LGBTQ+ community.  Issues discussed in the booklet include accessing services, racism, language barriers, transphobia, volunteerism, mental health, community development, social engagement and much more.

“The booklet was created with the support from Community One Foundation’s Rainbow Grants and The Ontario Trillium Foundation. We are thankful for this opportunity to highlight and support diversity within the LGBTQ+ and newcomer communities,” Aamer Esmail, Manager, Youth Programs, Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services.

Photos from the launch on March 30, 2011

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Serena Nudel
Manager, Youth Programs, Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services
Tel: (416) 760-2815 ext: 315 Email:

After three successful years, the Among Friends Initiative ended in July 2010.

Among Friends was a three—year initiative to improve access to services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) refugees and immigrants in Toronto.

In 2005, The 519 Community Centre led the process of creating a resource guide for LGBTQ refugees;

The need for agencies in Toronto to be better equipped in delivering services to this high-needs population was identified;

Partnership between Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services, The 519 Church Street Community Centre and CultureLink was formed;

In 2006, the Ontario Trillium Foundation funded a three year project (Among Friends) to challenge and support agencies to change systemically in becoming LGBTQ immigrant and refugee positive;

To date, Among Friends has engaged over 100 volunteers in activities related to the project (contributing over 3000 volunteer hours) and reached out to over 450 service providers promoting safer and inclusive services and spaces for LGBTQ immigrants and refugees.

Support for Service Providers

Among Friends provided support to service providers and community based agencies to better service LGBTQ immigrants and newcomers. This included:

  • Participation in FREE trainings/workshops for staff, management, board members and volunteers;
  • Access to a supportive network for agencies to share experiences in this process;
  • Links to tools and resources;
  • Opportunities to attend forums and conferences;
  • Other ongoing support as required.

For more information, click here.

Among Friends training module (PDF file – 574 kb)  – Introduction to Understanding LGBTQ Newcomers.

Support for LGBTQ Immigrants and Refugees

Among Friends created volunteer opportunities for LGBTQ immigrants and refugees to build skills, gain experience and participate in community development. This included:

  • Developing agency trainings modules;
  • Sitting on the project advisory committee;
  • Developing a website and other promotional materials;
  • Delivering workshops in agencies;
  • Assisting in planning forums and conferences;
  • Mentoring and supporting agencies, staff, volunteers and community members.

For more information, click here. [Linked to: Home › Community Development and Action › Among Friends Initiative ›Volunteer Opportunities]

Involvement in the community

On an on-going basis, Among Friends was involved in:

  • Advocacy for rights for LGBTQ newcomers and immigrants and other marginalized communities
  • Promotion of inclusive spaces for all who access and receive services
  • Presentations at various events/conferences
  • Partnerships and collaborations with other community projects and initiatives
  • Lead member of Toronto’s LGBTQ Settlement Network

Check out our other pages to read more!