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COUNTDOWN: Ottawa’s pride fighters

Victories of past and future, in their own words

no caption Credit: Xtra files

In the week leading up to the Pride parade, Capital Xtra takes a look at the city’s pride fighters — people who have fought to support Ottawa’s queer community. Every day until Aug 26, we will reveal a pride fighter and their story.

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Sue Pihlainen
Coordinator, Evelyn Horne emergency and transitional housing for young women, Youth Services Bureau Of Ottawa

As an out and proud lesbian, Sue Pihlainen has made sure that her young women’s shelter is open and inclusive to queer and trans women. Now, she’s offering her experiences to help educate other shelters about gender and sexuality issues.

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Alex Kennedy
Coordinator, University Of Ottawa Pride Centre

Alex Kennedy brings his personal experience as a trans man to the table as the Coordinator for uOttawa’s Pride Centre. This fall he’ll be working to make the campus more trans-friendly.

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Adam Graham and Nicholas Little
AIDS Committee Of Ottawa

Now that the city has cancelled the safe inhalation (crack pipe) program, Graham and Little’s work educating people about harm reduction has a new sense of urgency.

“By cutting this crack pipe program, we will not be stopping crack use in our city, we’ll simply push it underground,” says Little.

“Our community pioneered harm reduction around safer sex messages,” says Graham.

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Ricky Barnes
Gay men’s health and wellness HIV/AIDS prevention coordinator, Pink Triangle Services

When the City Of Ottawa began plans to revamp Bank Street without consulting rainbow businesses and community groups in the area, queers demanded to be involved in 2006. Now we have two strong voices on the project’s advisory committee, and Ricky Barnes won’t rest until we’ve “staked our turf.”

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Anik Dalby
Child and youth in-care services recruitment worker, Children’s Aid Society Of Ottawa

After realizing there was a “natural bridge” between the queer community and the Children’s Aid Society, Anik Dalby made it her mission to create more rainbow families in Ottawa.

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John Duggan
Former member and spokesperson, Gays Of Ottawa

When police raided Ottawa’s Club Baths in 1976 and arrested 27 men, Gays Of Ottawa swung into action. The group managed to turn the experience into a public education campaign about gay sexuality — and get the public to criticize police treatment of gays.

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Barry Deeprose
A founder of the AIDS Committee Of Ottawa

In the 1980s, the fear and ignorance surrounding the AIDS crisis inspired activists like Barry Deeprose to found the AIDS Committee Of Ottawa. Canada’s AIDS movement was the first time that the patients were largely calling the shots about how they would be treated. The result changed our health care system and made it less authoritarian.

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Joe Cassey
Former Ottawa city councillor, Capital Ward

Before we had Diane Holmes at city hall, straight ally Joe Cassey was shaking things at council and forcing the city to acknowledge the gay community. His motion to secure funding for the Gayline in the ’70s opened council’s eyes to gay issues and paved the way for a more homo-friendly city hall.