Regina’s GBLUR Centre for Sexuality and Gender Diversity is spearheading plans for a new queer community centre in the Queen City. GBLUR, the queer student centre at the University of Regina, has been the most visible queer group in Regina for the past few years.
Nathan Seckinger, GBLUR’s executive director, says his group is heading up the initiative because his campus centre is fielding numerous requests for services which are not campus related. “Homophobia is still a serious problem in Regina,” Seckinger says. “We need a community centre that provides support and education to the Regina queer community as well as to the broader community. GBLUR is not set up to address queer issues in the larger Regina community as well as in southern Saskatchewan.”
Seckinger is clear that the new centre will not be run by GBLUR but rather will be operated by a board and membership drawn from the broader community. Over the past few months Seckinger has visited queer community centres in cities across the prairies and in Ontario to gather information on how those centres are operated and the services they provide.
“LGBT people often face exceptional systematic barriers when attempting to access health care or social supports,” Seckinger said in an invitation he sent out inviting people to attend a community forum. “While most Canadian cities have, at least, a small resource centre that coordinates these services on a municipal level, Regina is unusual in that no such organization currently exists here. The time has come for a centralized agency that can support community members as they work for the health and safety of Regina’s LGBT families,” Seckinger added.
While all the other major cities on the prairies have had queer community groups for many years, Regina has never been able to establish a functioning community centre. The Gay/Lesbian Community of Regina (GLCR), which has been the sole queer bar in town since 1973, has made attempts at providing a broader range of support services and programs but have never been able to sustain credible programs. Other groups such as Pink Triangle Community Services have come and gone and have never been able to establish themselves and gain the confidence of the community.
GBLUR secured a grant of $10,000 which they have used to hire a consultant with extensive experience in building community-based service organizations. Stonewall Consulting began working with GBLUR Jul 1 and held a community forum on Jul 19. That forum agreed that the name of the new organization would be Rainbow Wellness Resource Centre – Southern Saskatchewan.
The consultant, in partnership with Seckinger, has started to form a steering committee. That group will help guide the process of building a community centre that will provide services to queers in Regina and southern Saskatchewan. They have also begun seeking funding to enable them to rent facilities and hire staff to provide programming.
It is hoped that the doors of the new agency will open early in 2010.