GNSC - Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition


Equity Conference 2018

Equity Conference 2018

About the Conference

At the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition (GNSC), we noticed the desire and need to provide more education and conversation around equity within our organization. We received a grant from the Guelph Community Foundation and decided to host a one-day Equity event for our staff, leadership teams, key volunteers, board members, and partner organizations with the goal of “Starting the Conversation” around Equity within our organization. Given that many organizations have had similar ideas of hosting an event on equity, we decided to invite our partners and friends to share their knowledge to help deepen our understanding of equity.

The event was a wonderful success and took place on January 27th 2018 hosting a number of workshops and panel discussions. See below for details of each event.



Supporting Survivors, Supporting Ourselves with Jessica St. Peter, Women in Crisis (WIC)
description: Together we will talk about the various forms of gender-based violence that impact our lives and how we can support the people impacted. Through facilitation, group discussion and collaborative activities we will address the varying responses to violence and our hesitations to intervention and survivor support.

Journeying Together: Self-Reflective Practice and Allyship with Iona Sky, Child and Family Services
description: During this interactive workshop, participants will spend time exploring the various areas of power, privilege and oppression to help gain ideas on the different ways to be an ally on individual, organizational and systemic levels.

Women*, HIV & Stigma: A Toolkit for Creating Welcoming Spaces with Sarah Wilmer, AIDS/HIV Resources and Community Health (ARCH)
description: This workshop provides practical tips, tools and strategies to help you build a welcoming space for women* living with HIV or those facing systemic risk factors for HIV transmission. This workshop focuses on intersecting identities and how we can better equip ourselves to tackle stigma many women face on a daily basis. Upon completion of this workshop you will be well on your way to fostering your own welcoming space!

**Women is used to represent a wide range of identities including but not limited to, trans and cis women, women with trans experience, as well as folks on the transfeminine spectrum.

Ask The Nurse: How to Support People Living with Mental Illness with Ashling Ligate
My name is Ashling Ligate and I am a Registered Nurse specializing in mental health and addictions. I work on an acute psychiatric unit in Guelph. In this workshop, I will lead a roundtable discussion shaped by your questions about supporting people living with mental illness. Maybe you work as a healthcare provider, or maybe you feel you know nothing about mental illness: all perspectives are welcome. I will come equipped with lots of information and relevant resources but what we focus on will be determined by the experiences you bring as community leaders, service providers, and neighbours. Some questions we might cover: What does psychosis look like? What does it mean to be “on a form”? What is a Community Treatment Order? Should I call the police? How do I know if someone is on the right medication? What should I say to a parent whose child is struggling with thoughts of suicide? How can I avoid burnout when everyone in my community comes to me for help with their own problems? What can I do to address stigma about mental illness and addictions in my community? What should I do next: I’ve tried to contact everyone in Guelph to help someone and no one is doing anything? Come prepared with questions and an open mind!

Islam 101 with Sarah Sayyed, Muslim Society of Guelph
In light of recent events and the sudden rise of Islamophobia , this session will offer a brief introduction to Islam and help educators and service providers to recognize trauma and speak out against hate, as well as implement accommodations to assist Muslims in our workplaces, schools and social services.

Examining Privilege with Alisha Arnold, Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition (GNSC)
description: Through discussion and exercises participants will look at and explore the meaning of privilege. With the intent of becoming more aware of their own as to help create more safe spaces for others.

Voices of Value with Jasper Smith, AIDS/HIV Resources and Community Health (ARCH), Gender Intersect
description: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, trans, two-spirit, intersex (LGBT2Q+) people as well as people living with HIV/AIDS are two overlapping groups of people that often struggle to find services that are equipped to support their whole selves. Often, our lack of understanding creates anxiety, which can lead to mistakes, tarnished relationships, and a lack of available affirming resources. This workshop is intended to help foster awareness, competency and confidence for professionals to offer more inclusive and compassionate services. Working from a feminist and anti-oppressive framework, this session will lead individuals through statistics and data surrounding local LGBT2Q+ communities, explore some common language, and the latter half will focus on strategies for individuals and organizations. We believe that we have to be intentional about interrupting the many forms of oppression that create barriers within our communities for LGBT2Q+ people and that education is a key first step.

Vicarious Trauma: the Impact of Working with Survivors with Jan Klotz, Guelph Community Health Centre (CHC)
description: This workshop will assist participants to increase their understanding of the effect working with trauma survivors has on both their personal and professional lives, and increase awareness of the importance of developing strategies to mitigate the negative impact.

Racial Justice 101 with Kevin Sutton
You’ve taken the first steps toward racial allyship: You understand that racism in systemic, and that racial privilege makes you inherently complicit in racial oppression. You understand that you have a lot to learn and are willing to put in the work to do better. Now you are ready for a primer on how to contribute to a supportive environment for people of colour.

The Power of Using Harm Reduction Practices to Address Substance Use with members of the WGDS Harm Reduction Working Group
Harm Reduction is a practical, effective and humane way to assist people who are struggling with substance use and/or dependence. This workshop will:

  • explain the key concepts of harm reduction, and outline harm reduction practices
  • discuss common myths and realities related to substance use and harm reduction practices
  • share the experiences of people who have used harm reduction practices to improve their health and wellbeing


The Reality of Racism
Racism impacts the way we both provide and access social services. Racism is systemic, pervasive, insidious and alive in our communities and social services. False is the idea that it is ‘not as bad here,’ as it is in Trump’s America, we’ve got racism here too. Let us not forget that Canada’s history includes colonization and slavery too; white supremacist legacies that continue today. From the ongoing colonial genocide of Indigenous Peoples, the disproportionate representation of Black, Indigenous and people of colour in prisons and the criminal justice system, the detention of immigrants and refugees, deportations, hate crimes and murder.

Panelists will discuss the ways racism negatively impacts the lives of Black, Indigenous and Persons of Colour in Guelph, and Canada. How do we perpetuate racial violence through our provision of social services? What is not ‘helping’? Who are we excluding? How can we do better?

Providing Inclusive Healthcare
This panel will explore the complexity of healthcare provision and the limitations and shortcomings of health care today. Panelists discuss some of the amazing work being done in health care to better serve marginalized communities. Panelists will speak to better serving queer and trans communities as well as immigrants and refugees. The reality of the stigma associated with navigating the medical system as a sex worker or substance user will also be explored. Ways in which healthcare providers can perpetrate harm and violence will be examined as panelists discuss potential solutions.

Consent in our Communities and Social Services
Panelists will speak to their understanding of consent and help us come to a mutual understanding of consent. Conversation will centre the way consent impacts intimate partner relationships in our communities including abuse of power, sexual harassment and violence. The role of consent in social services will be explored in terms of how consent impacts program provision and access. Questions such as the ways a service designed to ‘help’ can perpetuate patriarchal and colonial violence will be raised. Panelists will speak to how we can empower and build healthier, consent-filled communities and services.