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Sandilands says she’s staying put

Pride Toronto ED responds to call for resignation

Pride Toronto (PT) executive director Tracey Sandilands says she’s “not going anywhere.”

Throughout the five public Community Advisory Panel (CAP) consultations, there were repeated calls for a complete overhaul of the PT board of directors and the resignation of the organization’s executive director, Tracey Sandilands.

Sandilands says she has difficulty understanding the reasons for the calls.

A lack of control, communication, transparency and accountability on the part of Sandilands and the board were described at every consultation session, perhaps most prominently at the Dec 14 session aimed at the racialized community. Many attacked Sandilands’ decisions and conduct, particularly regarding the censorship controversy that ultimately spawned the CAP process.

“We have never hidden anything,” she told Xtra on Dec 15. “We tried to be transparent. We may not have communicated everything as well as we should have. A lot of that had to do with a lack of the proper resources, like money for publishing. We weren’t trying to hide anything.

“I am not going anywhere. I have no intention of resigning. I’m here to do a job and I plan to do it to the best of my ability. So, unless the board sees fit to let me go for some reason, which would be their decision entirely, I’m not going anywhere.”

PT board co-chair Francisco Alvarez says the organization’s structure is something the CAP may address in its recommendations.
“At the moment we have no concerns with Tracey’s performance in terms of producing the festival, but we have to hear what people are saying cause we have not heard that,” he says. “We’re definitely open to considering all the recommendations that are made, those that the panel feels reflects the majority of the community’s opinions.”

Sandilands says the panel has collected some misinformation. At the trans-focused panel there was a suggestion PT has never had a trans person on staff.

But Sandilands says PT has employed two trans staffers in the past four years, one as volunteer program manager in 2007 and 2008 and one as last year’s arts and entertainment assistant.

“So many of the things I am accused of are not always accurate,” she says. “We are doing everything we can to make up for whatever wrongs have been done in the past. I don’t believe any of it was intentional.”

Some at the session for the racialized community demanded Sandilands apologize for moving Blockorama.

“I did in fact apologize for that and I did give them the space that they wanted,” she says. “So I kind of think an apology has already been given.

“We did everything we could to accommodate them in the space that they wanted, and we have offered them the space that they want for next year, but they have not yet given us a final answer. I’m happy to make an apology again if that’s what’s required.”

Sandilands also says no major changes will happen at PT until the board gets the recommendations from the CAP.

Some planning for Toronto Pride 2011 is already underway. Audited financial statements will be presented at a general meeting at the end of January, says Sandilands.