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Sheridan_Celebrates_Pride

Sheridan community celebrates its Pride

June 26, 2018

On Wednesday, June 13, the Sheridan Community formally kicked off a month-long celebration of Pride, with a flag raising event at the Davis Campus in Brampton, and shadow events at HMC and Trafalgar. For those who missed it, a video recording can be seen on Sheridan’s Facebook and Instagram channels.

Event host Ian Marley, VP Student Services and Technology began by outlining the importance of raising the Pride flag at Sheridan. “Symbols matter. They convey meaning and provide a signal that the lines of communication are open. They also serve as visible evidence of Sheridan’s commitment to fostering equity and inclusion, which includes support for sexual and gender diversity and all human rights.”

Ian outlined some actions that Sheridan has taken to build an inclusive community, including the installation of universal washroom and gender inclusive signage on campus, developing a procedure to help students change their name or gender in Sheridan systems, ensuring the presence of LGBTQ resources and representation at fall orientation, and creating a Building Positive Spaces taskforce.

OPSEU Local 244 President Jack Urowitz described how our culture is opening to gender reality and sexual diversity, as compared to his days in college when notions of gender and sexual equality awareness and acceptance were far from mainstream. He recounted a remark from the event planning committee, describing the original rainbow flag as the traditional Pride flag. “When a symbol and all that it stands for becomes ‘traditional’, you know the culture has absorbed the reality behind the symbol.”

Nancy Heath, Chief Steward of OPSEU Local 245 brought remarks on behalf of OPSEU’s Rainbow Alliance arc-en-ciel (RAA), who provides support, education and representation to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, asexual, pansexual, queer, questioning, two-spirit (LGBTTIAPQQ2S) OPSEU members. “Celebrating and acknowledging Pride is an important element to ensure LGBTTIAPQQ2S students, faculty and the larger community feel acknowledged and safe at Sheridan College.”

Sheridan Student Union Vice President, Trafalgar Cory Haslett shared how delighted they were in participating in today’s event. “For many people, their livelihood and identity are still seen as topics of casual debates, rather than truths deserving of respect and equitable treatment. It is a joy to be part of an institution not only willing to make a public stand in recognizing the LGBTQ+ community, but willing to take the steps to do so with as much thought and intention as possible behind this symbolic action … It has been meaningful for me as a member of the LGBTQ+ community to witness and be a part of the behind-the-scenes advocacy we have done to get here today.”

Faith Amber, an international student at Sheridan, spoke of the homophobia that exists in her country, noting that seeing the Pride flag displayed across Peel Region is a true sight to behold. “Displays like this truly make a difference in people. They inspire us to be better, to not be afraid of who we are and to be a closer community … We all should be proud of this flag, whether you are gay, lesbian, bi, trans or even straight, because it not only symbolizes unity, but also the unity of the people of Canada, where anyone can be themselves no matter their orientation, race, religion or gender.”

Miranda Edwards shared a poem they authored for this occasion, recounting times they tried to tell friends and family they were queer, only to be met with shock or anger, teaching them to be scared and ashamed. “Pride is a goal that I have…for a future where those who are like me can freely be who they are without fear of judgement and punishment … It is not the responsibility of the LGBT community to change how the world views us, but it is the world’s duty to protect and accept us. I want to live in a world where it is okay to be proud.”
Following the remarks, the flag was raised, to the cheering delight of the audience. The Pride flag will be flown at all Sheridan campuses — on outdoor flag poles at Trafalgar and Davis and on an indoor flag pole at HMC –until July 11, 2018.

These dates were chosen to purposely coincide with different festivities occurring in Sheridan’s home communities throughout June and July and to allow all of our vacationing faculty an opportunity to be part of the celebration.

To celebrate Pride, Sheridan will host a series of activities including library displays, contests, workshops and more.

A number of contests are also being run on Twitter and Facebook, with prizes being offered to people who share what Pride means to them, using the hashtags #SheridanPride and #DiscoverPride.

The flag raising event was a collaborative effort, spearheaded by Sheridan’s Centre for Equity and Inclusion and Sheridan Student Union, supported by OPSEU local 244, OPSEU local 245, OPSEU Rainbow Alliance, Students Affairs, Library and Learning Services, the International Office, and Communications, Public Affairs and Marketing.