I want to start by thanking Chevi for the tireless work she does to advocate for LGBTQ issues, indigenous people, and now homeless people. You are an inspiration to many, and the way you’ve turned a negative into a positive is admirable.
I’m honoured to be here today with these community leaders from diverse backgrounds who are all united in taking a stand against hate. The events of the past couple weeks show that this cause is more relevant than ever.
I’m here representing the Alberta Party and on behalf of our leader Greg Clark, I wish to extend his regrets for not having been able to attend this year. As an LGBTQ person, this cause is near and dear to me, so I was thrilled to be able to represent the Alberta Party today on his behalf.
I know all too well what it is like to grow up in fear of not fitting in, and fear of rejection. The worry that if my parents find out that I might not be welcome in their home. As a teenager, I heard many times that “no fags would be allowed under this roof” from my father.
I had to spend my teen years hiding who I was and always fearing rejection and physical assault in a small rural town from peers.
Fortunately, when I was ready to come out in my 20s, I was supported by a wonderful mother and eventually by my father who realized the error of his ways and whose views evolved. Lucky for him as he now has two gay sons.
Not all youth are so lucky. Research shows that teenagers who are rejected by their family for their sexuality are 8 times more likely to attempt committing suicide than their straight peers, and approximately 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. Knowing these statistics, it is particularly appropriate that Chevi has chosen to direct proceeds and the awareness campaign of this year’s Hate to Hope towards the Mustard Seed, which works to support our homeless population in Edmonton. Our communities are over-represented in the homeless population and so we have much work to do to provide true equality and inclusion for them.
I consider myself fortunate and privileged to have a roof over my head, stable employment, and know where my next meal is coming from. But not everyone is so fortunate. I feel we all have an obligation to help contribute and lift up those who don’t experience those same comforts. Shelter, food, clothing, and the ability to contribute to society should not be viewed as a privilege. They should be viewed as a right, and each one of us has the power to help make that happen.
The Alberta Party is committed, as are these other fine folks up here, to making sure that we help create the conditions where every person can get ahead, get on their feet and have a sense of purpose and self-worth. We are also committed to making sure that where needed, our government is protecting those who can’t protect themselves, and that those communities that need services are engaged in how we can best serve them.
While politicians speaking out and denouncing hate is important, we are not the solution. The solution lies in all of us taking the time to speak up when we see hate in action. Whether it’s a casual homophobic comment by a team mate, an inappropriate joke by a co-worker, or our elected representatives associating with groups that tolerate and promote hate, it is incumbent upon each of us to say, “that is NOT acceptable in my Alberta.”
Thank you for being here today, and for supporting this important work. Together we can all truly turn Hate to Hope.