The Positive Spaces Regional Champions are a diverse team of carefully selected, well-qualified, enthusiastic, and dedicated volunteers from all seven regions across Ontario.
The Champions contribute their time, energy, and local expertise and connections to reach out, build networks, and coordinate events in support of LGBTQ+ newcomers and service providers in their home regions. The Champions are responsible for:
- Performing outreach and referrals within their region. This includes promoting the OCASI Positive Spaces Initiative and its tools, resources, and training opportunities to local and regional immigrant- and refugee-serving agencies.
- Maintaining lists of community resources for LGBTQ+ newcomers and service providers within the region.
- Coordinating regional events to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ newcomers, and to bring people together for greater resource-sharing and collaboration.
- Stay tuned to the Events section of the Forum and join the PSI Mailing List to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in your region!
- Establishing informal networks within the specific regions. This may include coordinating online and offline meetings, mobilizing LGBTQ+ and newcomer communities at the local level, encouraging volunteerism, and stimulating community interest and engagement.
If you would like to get involved in your regional Positive Space network, please contact PSI Project Coordinator Alexandre Inkingi (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she can put you in touch with Champions near you!
Your Champions Team
Claudia is originally from southern Mexico; she immigrated to Canada in 2010 with her parents and two sisters. She graduated from Culinary Management at Niagara College in 2013 and was very successful in the industry for several years. She decided that something was missing and went on to pursue her other passion, helping others in her community. She started volunteering at the Folk Arts Multicultural Centre as a receptionist, where she quickly discovered how much she wanted to help other Newcomers. She was then offered an opportunity to support the seniors program, utilizing her culinary skills and leading a cooking club, amongst other activities. She acquired the position of Community Connections Worker in Welland, which transitioned into Community Connections Worker in Niagara Falls and St. Catharines. Claudia has found great joy in doing the work she does but especially getting to know people from diverse backgrounds and learning their stories.
Hiba Farran Settlement counselor at OCISO, a protection specialist worked at global, country and sub-national levels with UNHCR and several international non-governmental organizations. Areas of expertise include education, child protection and community support in emergencies; gender-based violence prevention and response; as well as the resettlement and integration of refugees, persecuted minorities, and other displaced people. In my current position as settlement counsellor for vulnerable populations at OCISO, I provides needs assessments and referrals for refugees and newcomers, especially LGBTQIA+.
Mr. Joseph Jilitovich is currently employed as a Settlement Counsellor with the Orientation Services for Newcomers team at the London Cross Cultural Learner Centre. Mr. Jilitovich immigrated to Canada in 1994. At that time, he commenced his employment in the settlement sector with LCCLC on a part-time basis and later advanced to a full-time position in 2002. Mr. Jilitovich’s position enables him to advocate and provide information/orientation pertaining to issues concerning newcomer settlement. He also delivers anti-homophobia trainings within the newcomer population and ESL/LINC schools as well as provides LGBTQ+ awareness training in collaboration with other agencies who serve newcomers. Mr. Jilitovich has accomplished many things since emigrating to Canada. Some accomplishments include sitting on two advisory committees for both the Positive Spaces Initiative and Accessibility programs (both run by the Ontario Council of Agency Serving Immigrants, OCASI). During the round table events focusing on LGBTQ+ Refugee issues, Mr. Jilitovich took part in the Envisioning Global LGBTQ+ Human Rights project. Lastly, Mr. Jilitovich was nominated for the I Am London social media campaign in 2013 as a result of his inspiring story of his arrival and settlement in London, ON.
Candace Ghent is a queer, trans, settler who currently lives in the traditional territories of the Nipissing First Nation. Candace is a Social Justice major at Nipissing University and was the Director of the student led Equity Centre for two years. During their time at Nipissing University, Candace has worked to create positive and safer spaces for all students, through initiatives such as: the Inclusive Washroom Project, creating and facilitating anti-oppression workshops, and sexual and gender based violence prevention work as a peer educator.
Candace currently works as the Positive Spaces Research Coordinator at the North Bay & District Multicultural Centre as the lead on the new Positive Spaces Research Project; a community based research project aimed at determining what LGBTQ2S+ communities need to receive safe, inclusive, and meaningful services in North Bay.
Mona Awwad is a Masters student of Public and International Affairs. She did her BA in French Language and Literature, and has over 10 years of experience in political research, journalism, session facilitation and newcomer settlement support. She is currently working as a Policy Researcher at the Ontario Ministry of Education, as well as a Research Assistant at York University's Centre for Refugee Studies. She has worked as an Arabic speaking Settlement and Refugee Support Worker at the Afghan Women's Organization (AWO), and continues to support AWO as needed.
Meg Ramore is the Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) Coordinator for the North Bay region. Working closely with the North Bay & District Multicultural Centre Meg develops programming for newcomers and works with local employers, agencies, and schools to deliver social justice and anti-oppression workshops. Meg volunteers in the feminist and LGBTQ communities and structures her work through an inclusivity framework.