Toronto
2 min

EGALE is dead, long live Egale

The lobby group aims at being more inclusive

Equality For Gays And Lesbians Everywhere has a new name.



“The old name was quite long and cumbersome,” says executive director John Fisher, introducing the new Egale Canada.



An overwhelming number of the 400-odd ballots cast at the national lobby group’s Feb 10 annual general meeting in Ottawa favoured the switch.



“The board’s proposed a number of changes to the membership this year, in particular a combined name change and mission statement change, to be a bit more inclusive of bisexuals and transgendered people.



“And most people knew us by the name Egale anyway.”



Most of the ballots were mailed in; only 25 people actually attended.



Fisher admits that the new name may cut down on the visibility of the community because the words “gay and lesbian” no longer appear front and centre, but says the membership clearly thinks inclusivity to be more important.



A second amendment explicitly includes bisexuals and transgendered people in a new mission statement – which was also expanded to include family of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals.



Says Fisher: “We recognize that the interests of the transgendered community are not identical, but there’s a lot of overlap – like relationship recognition and hate crimes.”



Finally, the new mission statement no longer makes reference to the federal domain, since Egale Canada is increasing involved in matters of provincial jurisdiction.



The new mission statement will now appear on all letterhead and press releases.



Canada’s national queer-rights lobbying group heads into 2001 with new staff and new digs, adds Fisher.



After six years of a single employee, Egale now has two new part-time staff, a projects coordinator and an office manager. With membership, fundraising and events such as the annual gala on Parliament Hill off his plate, Fisher says he’ll have more time to devote to legal and lobbying matters.



To accommodate the expansion, new offices were required.



Fisher says the effects of an office manager are already being seen, as Egale’s membership rose to 2,000 from 1,500. Egale’s total budget is up, too, to $258,000, which includes $105,000 in government grants for legal costs on marriage and censorship cases.



For 2001, Fisher predicts the census will be a hot button issue since it contains same-sex spousal questions for the first time, leading to confidentiality concerns. He also says fighting to change Canada Customs censorship laws and the reintroduction of immigration legislation (allowing same-sex partners into the country as “family”) that died when an election was called would be high on the political agenda.



Other issues include lobbying the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, the two holdout jurisdictions, to extend human rights protection to homos.



Board members are: Dale Akerstrom (Vancouver), Cynthia Callahan (Victoria), Jeni Minion (Regina), Ormond McKague (Regina), Laurie Arron (Toronto), Kathy Lahey (Kingston), Bill Hawke (Ottawa), Margo Ross (Ottawa), Brent Bauer (Montreal), Micheline Montreuil (Charlesbourg), Kim Vance (Musquodoboit Harbour) and Pierre Bourgeois (Moncton). (E-mail addresses are firstname@egale.ca).



EGALE CANADA.

205-176 Gloucester St,

Ottawa ON K2P 0A6.

(613) 230-1043.

Toll free 1-888-204-7777.

Fax (613) 230-9395.