Brad Therrien had no idea what he was signing up for when he decided to volunteer for the Okanagan Pride Society.
“I didn’t realize I was stepping into a board position; I thought I was just going to be a volunteer,” he says, nearly two years later.
Therrien first served as the group’s treasurer before becoming vice-president in January.
Besides helping to coordinate this year’s Okanagan Pride Festival, until recently the 27-year-old also ran the society’s weekly non-profit bar.
Last spring, Therrien created the Etcetera Kelowna youth program, a weekly after-school space for gay and allied youth aged 15 to 25. The group hosted its first youth-diversity prom in June.
“The idea behind the name is to de-emphasize labels,” he says.
Before launching Etcetera, he consulted with local law enforcement, mental-health professionals and the school district, all of whom agreed that the program was desperately needed.
With the recent closure of Kelowna’s Pride Centre in July, Therrien is now searching for a new location to host the youth group. “There are a lot of kids who do drop out of high school, there are a lot of bullying issues, and we don’t have [programs like] Out in Schools in the area,” he says.
“The [gay-straight alliances] were struggling, and I decided that the best way to help would be to create a safe space for these youth.”