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A PSI 2012- 2013 Update

It's been a while since we did a PSI update! Since March is the end of the "fiscal year", we created a PSI Annual Activity Report which we will upload to this site soon. It will document the many incredible achievements that PSI has accomplished this year. Here are the highlights of the report:

“I loved the opportunity for dialogue. I especially think it is important to create a safe space to talk because people can’t lose their misconceptions unless they engage in conversation which helps them to unlearn them.”

- PSI Workshop Participant

Between April 2013 and March 2013, PSI has delivered training/workshops to over 600 service providers, staff, management, board members, volunteers and other stakeholders from over 80 organizations across the Province of Ontario.

An additional 112 more people took the PSI online course at www.learnatwork.ca.

The number of visits for our site www.ocasi.org/positivespaces went up 67.20% from the previous year!

In February, 2013, PSI started to feature Agencies and Projects that commit to addressing equity and inclusion in the workplace. We did this to give recognition to organizations working to be a more inclusive and positive spaces as well as to inspire and motivate other organizations to start the process. So far, we have featured 5 agencies – all of which have received PSI training.

PSI started using social media to connect and engage the online community this year. PSI now has a Twitter and Facebook page that continues to grow in followers and fans! Our social media enables us to connect and interact with other agencies and organizations online, not just in Ontario or Canada but as well as across the world.

Follow our twitter @ocasi_psi and “like” us at facebook.com/PositiveSpacesInitiative.

In late January 2013, the PSI Online Community of Practice went live! The PSI Forums provide opportunity for service providers as well as community members to create and sustain an online network to:

  • Support one another in addressing issues of LGBTQ newcomers and refugees
  • Increase capacity within newcomer, immigrant and refugee communities and mainstream LGBTQ communities to better serve LGBTQ newcomers and refugees
  • Promote LGBTQ newcomer events, projects and initiatives
  • Ask questions, engage in online discussions, share best practices and help raise awareness on LGBTQ newcomer issues.

Positive Spaces is more than just a one-time workshop and training. It is a continuous process of identifying, understanding and breaking down barriers to participation, inclusion and belonging. We want to create sustainability with the project so that there is ongoing support for service providers and community members on how to continue to create positive spaces and making sure that LGBTQ newcomers feel included and integrated in the society. We are connecting and collaborating with OCASI member agencies, LGBTQ serving organizations and community members to form regional networks to better facilitate the Positive Spaces Initiative. This year, we connected and networked with service providers from London, Ottawa, North Bay and with the Toronto LGBTQ Settlement Network to lay the framework of a network of dedicated organizations and stakeholders to address equity, inclusion and positive spaces.

The Positive Spaces Initiative continues to gain distinction in LGBTQ advocacy and education within the settlement sector as more and more agencies and organizations working with immigrants and refugee realize and acknowledge the distinct yet familiar needs of the LGBTQ newcomer community. PSI continues to receive request for training and workshops as well as invitations to do presentations and info sessions regarding the project.

We are honored to be one of the projects that is featured on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada's "Best Practices in Settlement Services". This list "showcases best practices in settlement services to inform organizations, governments and individuals working with newcomers about programs taking place across Canada and around the world. It also aims to promote innovative ways to assist immigrants in their integration into their new communities."

In June 19, 2012, PSI partnered with Access Point on Danforth to host a panel discussion on LGBTQ+ newcomer issues. Identity, Migration & Policies brought together more than 50 service providers, volunteers and community members from across the GTA. Also on January 22, 2013, another LGBTQ+ Newcomer forum was organized by PSI in partnership with the Toronto LGBTQ Settlement Network and the OCASI’s #CdnImm Working Group (wiki.settlementatwork.org/wiki/CdnImm/11). The event was called Building Capacity & Creating Awareness: Working with LGBTQ+ Newcomers. Both events were a huge success! It’s rare to have an opportunity for stakeholders to talk about LGBTQ newcomer issues. There were info tables and opportunity for everyone to network and have a dialogue on various important topics and share best practices on how to serve LGBTQ newcomers.

PSI’s Untold Stories Project was also one of the featured projects at Testimony: A Living Exhibition of Queer Youth by Coalition of Queer Youth. Testimony is part of the 10th Annual All Outs Arts Fresh Festival in New York City’s Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay & Lesbian Art. The Exhibition ran from July 18-28.

PSI will continue to collaborate and work with our partner agencies and organizations in coordinating services and identifying the needs related to LGBTQ newcomers. We continue to respond to training needs within and outside the sector and provide sector wide training and information sessions on creating Positive Spaces, examining homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and creating inclusive services for all newcomers

Thank you for a wonderful year! We will continue with the project this year so watch out for more PSI! We hope to be able to do more collaboration, partnerships and more exciting work this year!

“Excellent workshop provided by OCASI Rep. Hurly. Your insight & knowledge on services available & how we, as an organization & as individuals can make positive changes & positive spaces! Thank you! "

- PSI Workshop Participant

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