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Meet Pride Toronto's board nominees

Meet Pride Toronto's board nominees

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Annual general meeting Oct 25 at 6:30pm
Pride Toronto (PT) recently put out a call asking for more women's representation on its board, and the community has responded.

The group of nine nominees for the board is the most diverse in recent memory and includes six women.

Pride will fill five board vacancies at its annual general meeting, which will be held Oct 25 at 6:30pm at the new Mattamy Athletic Centre in Maple Leaf Gardens, at 50 Carlton St.

PT chair Francisco Alvarez did not respond to several requests for comment.

Pride is filling the position of former co-chair Luka Amona, who recently left the board for personal reasons.

The board will also be releasing its year-end report, selecting a theme for the 2013 festival and presenting its audited financial statements. Alvarez previously told Xtra that he expects Pride to show a surplus this year.

The suggested theme choices for Pride 2013 include Super Queer, Come Together and The World Is Coming.

Board hopefuls will make their case to PT members and detail why they should be elected to help lead Pride for the next three years.


Communications professional, journalist and community organizer Lauryn Kronick is vying for a position. Kronick is a strong local advocate with more than three years of experience organizing in the queer community in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.

She served on the Capital Pride board in 2011 after joining the festival as media relations coordinator in 2010. She later took on the position of vice-chair of communications. She has also been an organizing leader with Toronto’s Dyke March and frequently contributes to Xtra.

“Toronto’s Pride board needs more diverse representation with women, people of colour and trans folks,” she says. “I believe Toronto Pride should focus on supporting a grassroots organizing model. This year, Pride was very successful in that.”

Kronick points to the newly formed group Queers for Social Justice as evidence that PT is taking steps to reconnect with its activist roots.

“This year felt really positive in moving back toward a community-driven Pride, and I want to see things continue in that direction,” she says. “Even though Pride is a party, it will always have a strong political element to it. We must never forget our past, but we all have to work together to move forward.”

Toronto City Hall remains a battleground for the Pride board. Last month, the mayor’s executive committee asked the city manager to rewrite the city's anti-discrimination policy to prohibit criticism of Israel, specifically banning the phrase “Israel apartheid,” which would effectively ban the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) from Pride.


Lawyer Paul Jonathan Saguil says he supports Pride's position.

“Any group has a right to march as long as they don’t breach the City of Toronto’s current policy," says Saguil, who is also vying for a board position.

Saguil is the vice-chair of the Ontario Bar Association’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Section and is a board director of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers.

“What I can bring to the board is expertise at looking at issues through the framework of legal and policy analysis,” he says. “Many of these issues that Pride Toronto has had to tackle in the recent past have had a legal lens to them. My practical experience can really assist the board in its decision-making.”

Saguil, a Filipino Canadian, says he will bring a unique cultural perspective to the board. “I don’t feel there is enough ethnic distribution on the board.”

For all board members, working toward a successful WorldPride in 2014 is a key goal.

Nominee Kerry Bell says her background in event planning, entertainment and youth mentoring will be a valuable asset for Pride as it plans for the international festival.

Bell is a new Canadian who recently moved to Toronto from Jamaica, “considered one of the most homophobic countries in the world,” she says.


“There are many LGBTQ people here who don’t know how good they have it, perhaps because they have never left the province or the country,” she says.

Bell says Toronto's queer community has welcomed her with open arms. She says that's why she gives back by serving on the board of the 519 Church Street Community Centre and volunteering with Pride Toronto.

“I am a very strong black woman and a woman who has been persecuted for my sexuality,” she says. “I am also a woman with 12 years of large-scale event planning, so I feel that I can truly represent the LGBTQ community and the diversity of Toronto. I hope people can empathize with my journey and be proud of what I have achieved.”

In 2011, writer Christin Milloy, an information technology professional, made history as the first out trans candidate to run in a Canadian provincial election. Since then, Milloy has been visible as a local and provincial activist, advocating for trans rights and gay-straight alliances for queer youth.

For Milloy, accessibility at Pride is a top priority. “A perfect example is Pride’s headquarters is in a building that is not wheelchair accessible,” she says.

Milloy says one of the biggest challenges for Pride will be securing funding from the private sector as WorldPride inches closer. “Pride needs to start sourcing private funding.”


During Pride 2012, Milloy organized the break-off Trans March, leading a group of hundreds on an extra-long route down Yonge Street and up University Avenue, making a point of swinging by Queen’s Park before returning to the Village.

“I sincerely hope that is not necessary again this year,” she says. “One of my goals is to ensure the Trans March is a political demonstration that takes place on the main streets of Toronto.”

Milloy has been a member of the Trans Lobby Group, which was a strong voice at Queen’s Park in the push for the passage of Toby’s Law. She has also contributed to Xtra

Also running for the board is Erika Manata, a former Dyke March coordinator; Tim Guram, a museum, festival and culture organizer; Kent Churn, a partner at Accenture; Caroline O-Toole, a banking professional who has served on the Ontario Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and volunteers with Pride at Work Canada; and Shelly Craig, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Toronto who has served on the PFLAG national board in the US.

The other candidates were not available for comment.
   Pride Toronto board candidate profiles 2012

Comments

All's quiet on the Western front
All's quiet on the Western front. But, the absolute right to free speech lies wounded. But of course, that's what I've said all along. :)
Unsuccessful candidates
If you didn't get elected to Pride Toronto Board. Queer West Arts Centre could use your many talents on our Board, by appointment. We host Toronto annual festival of queer culture now entering its 13th year. The largest dedicated queer arts and culture festival in Canada. artsfestival.queerwest.org
A example of one of Whatcott's flyers
You can see an example of one of Bill Whatcott’s anti-gay flyers (featuring pictures of gay men with anal warts and other sexually transmitted diseases) on his website at http://www.freenorthamerica.ca/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=8864&p=20902&hilit=warts#p20902 After you access the link, scroll down until you see the phrase “Beginning of flyer”.
in response
Ian, I respect your right to hold views about my election to the Board. I would, however, encourage you to take a look more closely at the arguments that we actually raised on behalf of the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (which is best summed up in this editorial: http://bitly.com/v8uHry) before ascribing a particular position to me (or my client). For greater certainty, our written submissions to the Supreme Court, which can be obtained from the Registrar, explicitly make clear that CJFE rejects and deplores Whatcott’s misguided opinions about LGBT relationships. CJFE's position (and my own belief) is that the best response to offensive speech is not less but more speech -- it is in this open arena that truth can triumph over ignorance. In any event, I welcome further discussion about this and other important challenges facing the LGBT community, and look forward to serving you and other constituents in my role as a director of Pride Toronto.
Saguil, QuAIA and Whatcott, Part 3
Given the above, some would say that it would be very inappropriate for Saguil to serve on the board of Pride Toronto. You can read the factum that the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission submitted to the Supreme Court at http://www.scc-csc.gc.ca/factums-memoires/33676/FM010_Appellant_Saskatchewan-Human-Rights-Commission.pdf. Paragraphs 7, 12 and 13 of the factum set out extracts from some of Whatcott’s flyers. Some of the anti-gay statements in the flyers include the following: (quote) (1) … homosexuals want to share their filth and propaganda with Saskatchewan’s children… (2) Our children will pay the price in disease, death, abuse… if we do not say no to the sodomite desire to socialize your children into accepting something that is clearly wrong… (3) Sodomites are 430 times more likely to acquire Aids and 3 times more likely to sexually abuse children! (4) Homosexual sex is about risky and addictive behaviour! (end of quote). Saguil has a right to earn a living as a lawyer. But, if he wants to support Bill Whatcott (one of Canada’s worst homophobes) in opposing LGBT people, he really shouldn’t be on the board of Pride Toronto.
Saguil, QuAIA and Whatcott, Part 2
By way of background, Whatcott published and distributed four flyers in towns and cities in Saskatchewan in 2001 and 2002. Four individuals filed complaints with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. Each complainant claimed that one of the flyers promoted hatred against individuals based on sexual orientation and therefore violated the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. A tribunal of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission found that all four flyers exposed homosexuals to hatred and ridicule. The tribunal ordered that Whatcott was prohibited from distributing these flyers or any similar material which promoted hatred against individuals based on sexual orientation. It further ordered that Whatcott was required to pay fines to the Commission on behalf of each complainant. Whatcott appealed the tribunal’s decision and the Supreme Court will be issuing a decision on his appeal in near future.
Saguil, QuAIA and Whatcott, Part 1
I understand that Paul Jonathan Saguil was elected on October 25 as a member of the board of directors of Pride Toronto. The above article indicates that Saguil agrees with the positions taken by Pride Toronto in support of QuAIA marching at Pride. This is not surprising, as Saguil has been a supporter of the freedom of speech of people whose propaganda campaigns deeply hurt and offend others – including hate speech against gay people. Saguil is a litigation lawyer at the law firm of Stockwoods and was apparently involved in the case of Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission v. Whatcott, which is currently before the Supreme Court of Canada. Source: http://www.stockwoods.ca/lawyers/paul-saguil/ Bill Wattcott is an anti-gay religious activist and has been the subject of a number of Xtra articles. For example, see http://www.xtra.ca/public/National/Calgary_police_arrest_antigay_activist-11702.aspx. When Whatcott’s case was heard by the Supreme Court, Stockwoods acted for the intervener Canadian Journalists for Free Expression in SUPPORT of Whatcott and in OPPOSITION to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.
What about bad board members
Can you please list the names of the people who will remain on the Pride Board and tell us how long their terms are (forever?). Also please follow up on the outrages of Board member Evan Dean whose resignation was strongly called for in the spring (and the previous Pride when he, a heterosexual male, spoke on behalf of Toronto's lesbian and gay people apologizing for us to the mayor! This asshole has got to go and if not, why?
NEW BOARD - GO
Another election. I want to offer encouragement to Pride Members to find the right choices tonight. My first year back on the Board has reinforced my trust and faith in Pride coordinators ability to deliver an awesome event, and to bring their community connections into play. Pride is at a unique juncture. The anger and passion drove much of the last few elections has left its mark and I believe that Pride now requires leadership with a different perspective. The New Board will be making decisions on Pride - Post World Pride. Strong and experienced hands on the wheel are important. Experience may be in candidates who have tenure with Pride, they may not. What am I looking for in the candidates? Maturity - an ability to discuss and argue constructively. Not nessisarily tied to age. Experience - in the working world, or their cultural and spiritual perspectives. Community Connections - someone who has a unique perspective, NONE of us can speak for the community as a whole. Women, minority and abilities. Empathy - Can they relate? What I am not looking for in the candidates? Resume Builders – someone seeking the position to build their resume. Ego – someone who thinks his or her perspective is the only one. Party Princess’s – someone only looking for tickets to the cool events. It is a pretty simple list, but often forgotten. We need balance we need dedicated driven community leaders. The Board is where we work and it is our responsibility to insure that the needs of the community are met. Cheers and have a good AGM. - Mark Smith, Board Member
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