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1 min

Gay feds in small towns

Kelly Collard, who works for Revenue Canada in Borden, PEI — population 860 — started transitioning from male to female two years ago.

“I’ve had zero troubles at work,” she says. “When I spoke to my manager, I said ‘This was what I needed.’ Their attitude was ‘How can we make this work?’

“Sometimes you make assumptions about what it’ll be like in a small town, but I’ve had no negative incidents in Borden.”

But others say that being out in Canada’s bureaucracy has been difficult. Sharleen Patterson, PSAC’s Yukon representative, says she’s seen and experienced discrimination in her workplace.

“We have no whistleblowing legislation federally. I can’t use this information to lobby for change at work. We don’t have a venue to say, ‘I would like to have diversity training.'”

Patterson says discrimination happens all over Canada, but in remote regions it’s more noticeable.

Anneka Westergreen from Yellowknife, NWT, says the most difficult part of being out in the North is the lack of resources for queer people. Queer groups start up but frequently fall apart.

“Yellowknife is very transient; people come and go,” Westergreen says. “It’s the same group always volunteering, and they get burnt out.”