Community Advisors

Ronnie Ali (They/Them) - Toronto, Ontario

I acknowledge that my experiences with power, privilege and oppression are mixed: I struggle with experiences of transphobia/transmisogyny, racism, homophobia, classism, xenophobia, and mental health stigma, as an able-bodied, educated, housed, and professionally employed individual.

As a person with lived experiences of marginalization and oppression, and as a psychotherapist working in queer and trans communities, it was important to bring critical insights into the conversation about how COVID-19 has impacted our communities across the country.

 

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Vhil Castillejos (He/Him) - Toronto, Ontario

I have been involved in the 2SLGBTQ+ health and HIV sectors since 2016 in many capacities including social service programming, research, and resource development. In the past, I have worked with groups including Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS), the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research, Ryerson University's HIV Prevention Lab, and the Gay Men's Sexual Health Alliance; and was a fellow in Toronto's second cohort of Investigaytors. I draw from my work with these groups, along with my lived experience as a young queer Filipino immigrant in Toronto, in informing my participation in this committee.

This work is important to me because, as a young queer Filipino immigrant, I understand the health and health access barriers that are faced by individuals from underserved communities, especially those who have intersecting marginalized identities (in relation to race, gender, immigration status, age, etc.). Drawing from my lived experience, I have developed a passion in serving and advocating for these marginalized communities through my work in the community, including my participation in this committee.

 

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Jeff Chalifoux (He/Him) - Edmonton, Alberta

I am an Indigenous Two Spirit Social Worker and my work centres within the 2SLGBTQ+ community at the intersections of sex/uality and substance use; a community that is impacted immensely by COVID-19. According to the binary I am born male and present male and I identify as pansexual. Lastly, I am a citizen of the Métis Nation of Cree, Scottish and Irish descent.

The impacts of COVID-19 within my community and especially with my client base have been dire and even fatal. As a social worker and Two Spirit, it is seemingly innate to assist and support our communities as best within my abilities. This work will create new knowledge that may inform future support for the betterment of the health and wellness of our communities.

 

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Cristiani de Oliveira Dias aka Cris Dias (She/Her) - Toronto, Ontario

As an enthusiastic graduate of a Community Development Work Diploma, I acquired excellent knowledge, skills and experience promoting educational youth-based programming. Additionally, as an openly bisexual woman, I also have a personal understanding of the issues and challenges that the 2SLGBTQ+ community faces and have a lifelong commitment to developing programs that provide an inclusive support system for marginalized youth.

My passion for supporting vulnerable communities began when I created a high school literature study group after coming out as bisexual. I was raised in a conservative family, and this process was challenging and overwhelming for me. However, the group acted as a safe space at the time for me to be myself unapologetically. In the small city where I was born and raised, there was no social programming to help minority groups. So, I made it my purpose to create this space for my peers and maintained it as I continued through College and, eventually, University. Now in Canada, I am still committed to supporting marginalized youth and advocating for their rights to healthy food, a safe environment, good education, and reliable support systems.

I am also a part of "2SLGBTQ+ Community Brazil to Toronto," where we support each other by promoting fundraising events, podcasting our experiences and challenges in Canada, and reflecting on the struggles of the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Brazil. Nonetheless, as an immigrant in Canada, I fight to recognize our background skills, culture, the flexibility of laws of immigration and especially for the well-being of international students. Fighting for equity and justice is what drives my work the most.

 

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Yasmine El Addouli (She/Her) - Montréal, Québec

I am a French registered nurse currently completing a master's degree in public health (global health option) at the University of Montreal. As a woman of colour, I am fully aware that being part of some communities/minorities worsen the impact of crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to the exacerbation of violence and discrimination, we are more exposed to social, economic and health issues.

As a future professional in global health, I want to dedicate my career to Human Rights and health iniquities reduction. I am very honoured to be a part of this project, and I truly believe community empowerment is a key: understanding how the pandemic hit us is essential if we want to raise people’s awareness and find ways to attenuate or prevent these effects.

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Luke Esteban Gosselin (He/Him) - Québec

I am nonbinary transmasculine.

Because of the pandemic, it is becoming more relevant how the LGBTQ+ community is isolated and invisible. People had already a hard time gaining access to care and help in normal time, and this is exacerbated in these last few months.

We need to know what is happening and how COVID-19 is affecting us. I speak from a place of privilege despite my transness; I use it to give a way for those of us who have to fight every day to be seen and heard.

I believe everyone has the chance to help others in small ways. This is mine.

     

Jason Garcia (They/Them) - Edmonton, Alberta / Toronto, Ontario

I'm a Latinx queer non-binary, racialized young professional who strives to honour critical social justice praxes, taking much inspiration from transformative healing justice work, in whatever ways that I can in the capacities that I am able.

I'm grateful that these aspects of my identity, at best, can be insightful sources of knowledge and strength at the personal and political levels of consciousness. Yet, at a deeper level, additional layers of my positionality and lived experiences include the following: being multilingual, fat, a child of immigrants, ADHD diagnosed & mad-identified, a survivor of sexual assault and relationship violence, etc. These additional layers are very real, multifaceted perspectives that can offer a deep sense of insight in navigating not only my place within the LGBTQ2S+ community, but also, the world at-large. Unsurprisingly, this is the reality for so many other queer folks.

I do not come with a single identity. Queer people do not come with a single identity. Oftentimes, being complex beings can bring forth a sense of shame, isolation and disconnection from our wider community not just from the outside in, but as well as within our own communities, and at times, even our own internalized sense of self.

My hope is, bringing this visibility forward, and leaning in more intentionally to share space with fellow, multi-layered queer folks, can bring forth meaningful opportunities to identify the many ways this study can capture the lived experiences of all types of queer people in our communities.

We are all people with very real experiences in navigating, and perhaps even coping, with novel coronavirus. It is crucial that queer people feel they are very much able to communicate their experiences as honestly as possible without judgement with the hopes for further compassion and change.

As social worker and advocate Brené Brown often reminds us: "shame thrives in secrecy, silence and judgement"—it is crucial that we do our very best to allow our community to alleviate any shame, including the traumas often associated being multi-faceted queer people, where possible.

In the times of a pandemic, now more than ever, is there the need for further compassion and empathetic understanding of each other's lived experiences, including our own. As a community, we cannot thrive without leaning into these truths, striving for our own freedom and liberation.

 

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Nicole Jones-Abad (She/Her, They/Them) - Edmonton/ Amiskwaciy

I fall within the LGBTQ2S+ umbrella. Specifically, I am a latinx, neurodivergent, disabled, racialized trans-femme person of colour who is a guest to the land I’m on. In terms of sexual orientation, I use terms such as bisexual, pansexual and queer. A big part of my life right now is doing work within the queer and trans community, through research, and also through grassroots organizing.

I decided to apply for this opportunity because since the pandemic started, I’ve seen how hard it's been on people within the queer and trans community, especially for those that are QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black , Indigenous, People of Colour). I have hopes for this project and I want to join the other advisors in helping guide it.

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Ryan Khungay (He/Him) - Coast Salish Territory of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ Nations / Victoria, BC

I identify as a cisgender, gay, South-Asian male who is a son to immigrant parents. I am an uninvited settler on Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ Nations' territories (Victoria, BC) and previously I have lived the majority of my life as an uninvited visitor on the Secwe̓pemc Peoples' traditional territory, also known as Kamloops, BC.

I am really excited to be involved in this study! It is important to me based on the intersections of my lived experiences and it aligns with my passions for social justice and decolonial equity work. As a racialized gay man, and also as someone who has worked as a social worker in medical services for a number of years, I have had significant experiences of both personally encountering and witnessing racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia within settings that are intended to provide equitable healthcare to all. The challenges that LGBTQ2S+ folks with diverse intersecting identities face are often erased in discourses that inform healthcare policy. Therefore, I am hopeful that I can bring a nuanced lens to help inform this important study that will in turn help folks access healthcare in ways that are less oppressive.

 

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Lionel Lehouillier (He/Him, They/Them) - Gatineau, Québec

I love working for my communities. As a trans queer non binary neurodivergent francophone, I feel like I'm connected to so many different groups and am fascinated by intersectionality as a concept and reality. I also recognize that I am privileged enough to have a voice and I try to use it as much as possible to empower others, also while living as a settler on unceded territory. I see this opportunity as a concrete way of helping and empowering my community and queer relations.

The 2SLGBTQ+ community was already marginalized before COVID-19 hit us. The pandemic has underlined very brightly the inequalities that were already there. Health services, already very problematic, inaccessible and unadapted to trans and non-binary people became simply impossible to navigate. This project is important for me because it specifically targets those disparities and addresses them.

 

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Keiran Letwiniuk (He/Him) - Kenora, Ontario

I am a queer, disabled, transgender male with Metis and Ukrainian heritage. All of these parts of me give me a unique perspective on these issues.

I have always been passionate about helping other 2SLGBTQ people. I want to be a voice for my community and help create positive and long lasting changes, especially when it comes to health care needs for 2SLGBTQ and other marginalized populations.

     

Jonathon Potskin (He/Him) - Vancouver, BC

As a Two Spirit researcher I wanted to be able to bring my experience to the table.

It is important to me that we create inclusivity within our communities.

 

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