About

about us

Change

Our History

Jeremy Dias, faced severe bullying and discrimination on a daily basis because of his ethnicity and sexual orientation in Highschool. Despite efforts to make changes in his school, he was stopped by school administrators. As a result of his experiences, he challenged his school and school board at the Ontario Human Rights Commission and, after three years, was awarded Canada’s second-largest human rights settlement ($5000) at the age of twenty-one. 

Feeling strong that the funds should go to making a difference in his community, he and a few friends founded the Jeremy Dias Scholarship, which, in 2005, then became Jer’s Vision: Canada’s Youth Diversity Initiative. This was prompted by calls from youth that needed support beyond a scholarship.

After ten years, the organization rebranded itself as the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD) to better focus on a national level of diverse communities who over the years, asked for collective, national, or regional empowerment and education for their local leadership. This shift brought about a clear mandate and vision for the transformed organization so that it can better educate, advocate and empower communities sustainably. This was further cemented with the new appointment of Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah as the new Executive Director in July 2020.

mandate

Mission

To empower gender and sexually diverse communities through education, research, and advocacy. 

Guided by the goals of the communities in which we work, we undertake our mission with both empathy and compassion since it is what the communities we serve deserve.

vision

A world without discrimination 

A world in which people can shape the decisions that impact their lives, enjoy freedoms, and navigate an equal world free of violence.

CCGSD will be a national force and partner of choice within the movement to end discrimination.

Values

Our core Values

CCGSD has committed to re-centering the communities in which we work. In our commitment to our diverse communities, we have deeply examined our individual and collective values and how to reflect these values in our work. We hold many values in esteem, but the Principles of Social Justice are the interrelated values at our core:

Access

We are committed to ensuring that all people and communities have access to rights-based goods and services: education, healthcare, shelter, and food, among others;

rights

We are committed to ensuring that all people and communities have access to rights-based goods and services: education, healthcare, shelter, and food, among others;

 

Equity

 We work to identify and eliminate societal barriers that prevent marginalized and oppressed individuals, peoples and communities from participating fully in society;

participation for all

We firmly declare that when rights-based or accessibility-related decisions will affect a person’s life, or a community’s well-being, that person or community needs to be included as a determining factor in the decision-making process.

 

Integrity

guiding principles

In order to fulfil our Vision and Mission, all of CCGSD’s work is executed in accordance with five basic Principles.

Diversity

is the cornerstone of the 2SLGBTQIA+ movements. We acknowledge and celebrate diversity in our communities and in our staff, volunteers and partners. One size cannot fit us all and we know that we cannot possibly understand the unique experiences of every person in our communities. But diversity is our strength and through finding commonalities in our differences we can work for social justice for all of us in this beautifully diverse world.

Intersectional Feminism

All feminism, to be socially just, must be intersectional. Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined the term, said intersectionality “is a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects.” Developed by Dr. Crenshaw within critical race theory, intersectionality is now widely used in various contexts in relation to social justice. We apply this lens to our work and our organization to seek out the intersections of power and the intersections of oppression experienced by gender and sexually diverse communities. We do so from a feminist perspective that acknowledges the cisheteropatriarchal oppression stemming from pervasive, systemic misogyny, the heritage of white superiority, and colonialism. We apply this intersectional and feminist lens to ensure that our work is intentionally anti-racist, decolonizing, class equitable, anti-ableist and gender and sexually diverse within and outside of our communities.

Education

For CCGSD, education is the continuous process of knowledge exchange between two or more people, and the foundation of social justice and a world without discrimination. We work not only to educate, but to learn. We exchange, we do not teach. Education is advocacy: it is widespread and helps us all learn about each other and our unique experiences of privilege and oppression so that we can build an equitable, accessible, participatory and rights-based world without discrimination together. 

Empathy and Compassion

We lead with empathy and compassion, kindness and understanding. We believe that we can change the world through mutual understanding, knowledge exchange and a willingness to truly hear each other in our diverse communities. We extend the benefit of the doubt to each other and to those within and outside of our communities in an effort to understand actions and perspectives that we may not agree with or share. We believe that the acceptance of and ability to find similarity through our differences begin with empathy and compassion.

Open Communication and Integrity

Participation and inclusion require truthful and honest information and the expectation of confidentiality. We focus on openness, honesty and integrity. At the same time, we respect the rights of the privacy of our staff, volunteers, participants, members, and members of the gender and sexually diverse communities. Both internally and externally, if information can be shared, it will be. We prioritize internal processes that are inclusive of staff and build organizational structures that welcome and respond to community feedback. We work to find the balance between safer spaces and openness to reach the goals of social justice: access, participation, rights and equity.

We hold these principles as the guiding principles of our organization. We apply them in our values, our programming, our human resources, our research, our projects, our advocacy and our day-to-day lives. We believe that the elevation and amplification of oppressed voices and approaches show us the path to a socially just society. 

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