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History of LGBTQ+ Newcomer Programming at Access Alliance – Among Friends Initiative

LGBTQ+ newcomer programming started at Access alliance with the Among Friends Initiative. This three-year project improved access to services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ+) refugees and immigrants in Toronto. Its evolution was informed by the work of frontline community and health organizations in Toronto. Important milestones along the way include:

  • In 2005, The 519 Community Centre led the process of creating a resource guide for LGBTQ+ refugees and the need for agencies in Toronto to be better equipped in delivering services to this high-needs population was identified;
  • A partnership between Access Alliance, 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;
  • Over the course of the program, Among Friends 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.

Among Friends provided support to service providers and community-based agencies to better service LGBTQ+ immigrants and newcomers. The project created volunteer opportunities for LGBTQ+ immigrants and refugees to build skills, gain experience and participate in community development. On an on-going basis, Among Friends was involved in advocacy for the rights of LGBTQ+ newcomers and immigrants and other marginalized communities. We also promoted inclusive spaces for all who access and receive services.

Resources Developed through Among Friends Initiative

Training Module
As part of this project Among Friends developed a training module for service providers called Introduction to Understanding LGBTQ Newcomers (PDF 574 KB).

Among Friends Booklet
Between 2010 and 2011, LGBTQ+ newcomers came together to develop a booklet that would highlight their lives as immigrants and refugees to Canada.

The You Are Among Friends booklet (PDF 3,053 KB) is a collection of stories, experiences, resources and information shared by members of the LGBTQ+ newcomer communities. 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 support from Community One Foundation’s Rainbow Grants and The Ontario Trillium Foundation.