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Manitoba Museum Auditorium
From around the world, almost every day, there are stories that demonstrate the rise of hate against Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Inclusive communities. Canada has been called one of the safest places for 2SLGBTQ+ folks, but many know how fragile that security is.
The Manitoba Museum, in partnership with Rainbow Resource Centre, is hosting a special Pride Week First Friday event – Queer Activism: Now More Than Ever.
In this panel discussion, Ashley Smith, Director of Advocacy at Rainbow Resource Centre, will be joined by contemporary queer activists and academics to explore how the global rise of an anti-queer rhetoric threatens the rights of 2SLGBTQ+ people even here in Canada, and how the fight against discrimination needs the active support of Manitobans.
Ashley Smith (he/him), Director of Advocacy, Rainbow Resource Centre
Ashley is of settler descent, living in Winnipeg – Treaty One territory. He is currently Director of Advocacy at Rainbow Resource Centre—Canada’s longest serving 2SLGBTQ+ resource centre. In this role he oversees the education and communications teams as Rainbow builds Place of Pride, the new queer campus at 545 Broadway that will include Canada’s first affordable housing for 2SLGBTQ+ older adults.
For the last couple of years, Ashley developed Rainbow Resource Centre’s older adult programming, which recently received full funding from the Province of Manitoba. He has consulted with local and national organizations in the research and development of resources specific to 2SLGBTQ+ aging, health, and long-term care. He currently lives in Osborne Village with his partner of 14 years.
Karen Sharma (she/her), Executive Director, Manitoba Human Rights Council
Karen is a first generation South Asian living in Winnipeg – Treaty One territory. Karen is currently the Executive Director of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, where she has worked for the past eight years. As the Commission’s Executive Director, Karen’s job is to lead promotion and protection of human rights in Manitoba through administration of Manitoba’s human rights complaints system; the development of policy and research; and the delivery of human rights education. In addition, Karen is a co-organizer with Queer People of Colour Winnipeg, an organization that creates programming that centres and celebrates Two-Spirit, Queer and Trans Black, Indigenous, people of colour. Karen also chairs the Board of Directors of the Women’s Health Clinic. In her spare time, she can be found DJing local 2sLGBTQIA+ dance parties and quilting, both under the pseudonym Lucky Sharms. She lives with her partner and pets in Winnipeg’s North End.
Brie Villeneuve (they/them), student, University of Winnipeg, Faculty of Science
Community has been an important part of Brie’s life since they were young; from supporting animal shelters, fundraising for their clubs, and volunteering at local community events. In the past few years Brie has started to take activism online by posting short educational info-slides through Instagram with a focus on trans and queer identity and disability activism. Most recently Brie is known in the community for hosting a Rally for 2S, Trans, Non-Binary, and Gender Diverse Safety on UWinnipeg Campus. As the UWSA 2SLGBTQ* Students’ Director, Brie felt that the student and staff community on campus needed to know that people supported them and would continue to advocate for 2SLGBTQ+ liberation.
Their history of demonstrations attended include: Climate Action demonstrations, Indigenous justice demonstrations, Winnipeg Pride Parades, Pembina Valley Pride March, Trans liberation demonstrations, MB Students for Covid Safety demonstrations, and the rally for gender diverse safety on UW campus.
Noah Schulz (he/him), Professor/Researcher
Noah is a University of Winnipeg for undergrad degree with a Masters and PhD from Queens, completed in 2013. Since then, he’s taught for the Faculty of Social Work in Thompson, Manitoba and for the Politics and Women’s and Gender Studies departments at the University of Winnipeg. Noah specializes in political theory, particularly intersectional feminism, anti-colonialism and anti-racist theory and praxis. Noah is passionate about trans and queer liberation and sees trans rights struggles as connected to other liberation struggles against capitalism, structures of racism, colonialism, ableism, sexism and so on. He also has five cats that he shares with his partner of 19 years.
Noah considers himself an academic and an aspiring activist more than anything, and has attended several protests and community actions recently, including: the rally for trans safety on the UW campus this March; the Drag Queen Story Hour Welcome Committee at Scout’s Coffee and Tea last fall; and the protest organized by DefendWPG in February 2022, which was a counter action to the anti-vaccine and trucker convoy protests around the Leg.