The federal government unveiled what it described as a historic first on Sunday as it announced a five-year, $100 million plan to support LGBTQ, two-spirit and intersex communities across the country.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled the strategy, dubbed “Canada’s first Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan,” at a news conference on Sunday ahead of the pride parade in Ottawa — the first in-person march after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19.
Trudeau touted the plan as the first such federal initiative of its kind and said it demonstrates the government’s commitment to fighting discrimination and supporting diversity.
“This … will guide our ongoing work to fight discrimination, break down barriers, to advance rights, and to build a future where everyone in Canada is truly free to be who they are and love whom they love,” Trudeau said on Sunday.
Trudeau said 75 per cent of the funding will go toward community organizations focused on diversity and inclusion because that’s “where the real work of support comes from.”
“The strength and resilience of your communities should inspire everyone,” he said.
The strategy proposes to adopt and encourage the use of the 2SLGBTQI+ acronym, “which is more inclusive and places the experiences of Indigenous 2SLGBTQI+ communities at the foreground as the first 2SLGBTQI+ peoples in North America.”
The acronym stands for Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and additional sexually and gender diverse people.
Marci Ien, minister of women and gender equality, welcomed the action plan alongside Trudeau, saying the funds are for “all of those people who are fighting to be heard … and accepted.”
“This is for the people … who are discarded by their family and friends after they came out … to everybody trying to live their truth in rural communities where they feel isolated … this is for the Black queer people who are fighting every day to justify their place in this country, and the trans-women who are afraid sometimes to walk home alone in the dark … this is for you,” Ien said.
She said the strategy was created following several years of consultation and research with members of the LGBTQ and two-spirit communities.
Ottawa received more than 25,000 responses in 2020-2021 to a national online survey on how to better serve diverse communities, Ien said.
“The resounding answer was that they needed more direct support … to offer programs … to continue educating the wider public because, again, we can’t legislate kindness,” Ien said.
More than $5 million of the funding, she added, will go toward the launch of a public awareness campaign.
The government also pledged through the plan to launch consultations on additional criminal law reforms, with $7.7 million earmarked for data collection and community-led policy research to support federal action on LGBTQ issues.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Aug. 28, 2022.