Red Deer Queer Community Association is getting closer to opening a downtown tea house and community hub.
Originally envisioned as a coffee shop, the idea for the project came about after the recent 1 Million March for Children protests.
“We really want to make sure Red Deer has a space that is openly, outwardly welcoming to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, especially within this current social and political climate,” said association founder Alex Pugatschew.
“We are zeroing in on a location. We hope to have a confirmation on the location before the end of December.”
The hope is for a spring opening, depending on the renovations required.
She said the tea house will be open to the public who respect the space and the people inside, and it will finally provide the association with its own space to host events.
The association has received a $4,800 vacant spaces grant from the city for the project, and fundraising is underway to raise another $5,000.
“We’re extremely excited about it. I really think it’s going to be a good thing for Red Deer.”
Association members were going to tour a possible site for the hub on Monday, which also happened to be the International Transgender Day of Remembrance to recognize those who have been killed in anti-trans violence.
A public indoor event to mark the day was being held at 6 p.m. on Nov. 20 at the Vin L Den, at 4919 49th St., organized by RizeAbove Foundation of Red Deer.
Pugatschew, who was speaking at the event, said this important day shows the need for organizations like the Red Deer Queer Community Association and other organizations that work tirelessly to preserve the rights of 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
“Unfortunately there still are many groups of people who see us as the threat to their way of life, the enemy.”
She said aggressive acts continue, like using a meme to compare the LGBTQ community to Nazis posted by a Red Deer Catholic Regional School Board trustee who has since been disqualified, conversion therapy, and rolling back health care for gender-affirming surgery.
Central Alberta Pride Society said Nov. 20 was a day to remember the countless lives cut short, the dreams extinguished, and the potential lost forever.
“Each name and each story represents a unique and beautiful soul who deserved to be loved, respected, and embraced for exactly who they were. They were daughters, sons, siblings, partners, friends, and loved ones who had hopes, dreams, and aspirations just like anyone else,” the society posted on Facebook.
Canada’s Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth Marci Ien, said the rising tide of hateful speech surrounding 2SLGBTQI+ communities in the country is unacceptable.
“We all have a right to feel safe in our homes, on our streets, and in our communities,” said Ien in a statement on Transgender Day of Remembrance.
“Transgender communities, and in particular transgender people of colour, face some of the highest rates of violent crime – with 70 per cent of trans youth in Canada experiencing some form of sexual harassment or violence.”
She said the impact on the mental health of youth cannot be ignored. Transgender and non-binary youth are more than twice as likely to have thought of self-harm in their lifetime compared to a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex registered for them at birth.
Alberta’s Minister of Arts, Culture and Status of Women Tanya Fir said every Albertan deserves to live authentically and without fear, regardless of gender identity or expression.
“On Transgender Day of Remembrance, we pause to honour and remember those who tragically lost their lives to violence and prejudice. It is a somber reflection of the harsh realities many transgender individuals face, both in Alberta and around the world. We not only mourn their loss, we are reminded of our collective responsibility to continue the fight for acceptance, understanding and equality,” Fir said in a statement.
Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley said transphobia is on the rise across Canada and demonstrations of hate are becoming more common.
“We have leaders across the country devaluing transgender people through their words and their actions and simultaneously voting to adopt policies that would put already vulnerable youth at further risk,” said Notley in a statement.
“All elected officials have a responsibility to build safe, inclusive, and welcoming communities across Alberta, and the Alberta NDP remains committed to doing so.”