News
2 min

Honouring young community builders

More hands make light work

Check back each weekday
leading up to the beginning of Pride Week
for a new video interview with young community builders.

PATRICK DEDAUW, 18

Musician & director

At just 16, cellist Patrick DeDauw joined local homo emo singer/songwriter Glenn Nuotio’s band. Having played with Nuotio for two years now — and having written and directed a series of local theatre productions both in and outside of his high school setting as well — DeDauw has made a mark on the queer Ottawa arts scene.

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FAYE ESTRELLA, AKA FESTRELL, 23

Spoken word & DIY artist

From starting a zine distro back in high school, to dropping poetry all over town, to founding Ravenswing craft and zine fair with fellow Ottawa poet Sean Zio, Festrell has always been involved in grassroots projects that help bring together queer artists and create a sense of community.

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ALEX GEYER, 20

Agitator, The Village Project

Following Glenn Crawford’s lead, Alex Geyer has been advocating for an official gay village in Ottawa. He has been collecting signatures and working on getting Bank St businesses to put up purple stickers in their store windows, in recognition and support of the queer community.

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KAYLA MILLER, 19

Senior coordinator, Pink Triangle Youth &
camp counsellor, Ten Oaks

As soon as Kayla Miller heard about Ten Oaks, the summer residential camp for queer youth and youth of queer families, Ten Oaks, she knew that she wanted to reach out to the queer community in a bigger way. After attending Ten Oaks for a couple of years herself, she is now gearing up to be a counsellor at the weeklong camp in August, where she’ll take a break from her current volunteer position of running the popular Wednesday night Pink Triangle Youth meetings at PTS.

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JOSHUA FERGUSON, 25

Founder, Standing Against Queer Discrimination

In response to the Canadian Blood Services’ policy that bans men who have sex with men from donating, University of Western Ontario student Josh Ferguson decided to set up an outlet for queer activism at his conservative school. Since forming Standing Against Queer Discrimination (SAQD) in Sep 2007, Ferguson has taken his group everywhere from a staged ‘die in’ in front of the campus’ Student Health Services to the National Day of Action on the organ ban on Parliament Hill in Feb 2008. Along with the usual protests, SAQD’s agenda for next year includes plans for a queer film festival, outreach programs to high schools about queer issues, peer-to-peer counselling for those questioning their sexuality and an accessible washrooms project.

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JAYDA KELSALL, 25

Sex educator & zinester

A sex educator since the age of 15, Jayda Kelsall now works at Venus Envy and hosts many of the store’s educational sex workshops. Her first zine, ‘Small Town Genesis,’ is a reflection of growing up queer in the only atheist family in small town southern rural Alberta.

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MELISSA GUNSOLUS, 25,
MARIE ROBERTSON, 25 &
JOANNA PADDOCK, 23

Queer educators, Team GRIS

An initiative of Jer’s Vision, Team GRIS is a group of university-aged youth who go into high schools and educate students about queer issues. In its first year, Team GRIS reached over 7,000 youth in grades 7 through 10 with its workshops. The group encourages straight youth to ask questions about queer issues and tries to put an end to any prejudices some kids may have.

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KIEL HARRIS, 18 &
BRET CAMPBELL, 20

Founders, Gay, Lesbian Bi, Trans Association of Algonquin College

After a few attempts failed to start a queer group at Algonquin College, first-year students Bret Campbell and Kiel Harris took matters into their own hands at the beginning of the 2007 school year. They dedicated themselves to creating a queer group that Algonquin could call its own. With the ball finally rolling on the group, the boys are trying to make up for lost time, holding fundraisers and organizing events in order to create a supportive environment for their queer peers.