We Exist — Looking Back, Looking Forward: A History of Black LGBTQI organizing in Canada

The Decade for People of African Descent Cannot Forget Us Black LGBTQI+ People.

Join us for a virtual panel on February 22 at 1:00pm EST moderated by Dr. Wesley Crichlow. We will hear from Black LGBTQI leaders from across Canada to discuss the history of Black queer and trans organizing and start a conversation for the future.

About the Panelists

Dr. Wesley Crichlow

Dr. Wesley Crichlow

Dr. Wesley Crichlow is an African/Black Canadian Critical Race Theorist Intersectional Decolonial Queer Scholar. Whose work critically connects Theories of Enslavism Anti-Blackness, Anti-Black Racism, Intersectionality, Black Queer Theories and Decoloniality as the signature praxis and framing for his research, teaching and service. He teaches at Ontario Tech University and has over 20 years of university community praxis and scholar activism enabling operationalizing and mobilizing public engagement.

Current SSHRC Research Project: Understanding the Community Re-entry Needs of Formerly Federally Incarcerated Black Men who have a range of same-gender experiences, including same-gender sex, desires, relationships, identities, who enjoy and love other men, including Gay, Bisexual, Trans men, Gender-Diverse, Nonbinary and Queer Men, 2022-2025

Egale Canada: Fellow and scholar in residence Egale Canada: 2021-Present

Publication Summary
He has published one book, co-authored two books, coedited three journals, written numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, government reports and conducted radio, podcast, tv and newspaper interviews and has been invited to over two hundred scholarly and community public lectures.

Author of: Buller men & batty bwoys: Hidden men in Toronto & Halifax Black Communities. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 2003.

Elie Chavry (She/Her/Elle)

Research Analyst, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples

Elie is a bilingual Black woman of Transgender experience who advocates for inclusion, diversity, equity, and safe space in the workplace for vulnerable groups. Currently, Elie serves as the Research Analyst at CAP where she provides qualitative and quantitative research information in support of the health, rights, status, inclusion, and quality of life of off-reserve status and non-status Indian, Métis, and southern Inuit Aboriginal Peoples living across Canada.

She supports CAP’s internal and external research activities and inquiries and is committed to strengthening CAP’s advocacy work through the highest quality of evidence-based briefs, reports, and recommendations based on primary and/or secondary data. Previously, Elie served as a Project Coordinator for Building Capacity for Gender Equality at CAP where she provided tools to promote Gender Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion in the workplace. Elie advocated in her work for the rights, inclusion, and representation of the disabled QTBIPOC groups. She also put into light the realities and challenges that the disabled QTBIPOC groups are facing in Canada. Elie graduated from the University of Ottawa in Social Sciences Specialised in Sociology and Gender Studies. 

Ellie Chavry

Debbie Douglas

Debbie Douglas

Debbie Douglas is the Executive Director of OCASI -the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. Through her work in the NGO sector and particularly at OCASI, Ms. Douglas has highlighted issues of equity and inclusion including race, gender and sexual orientation within the immigration system and promoted the creation of safe, welcoming spaces within the settlement and integration sector. 

A well-known face in Ontario and across the country, Ms. Douglas is often called upon by governments to share her expertise. She was a member of the province of Ontario’s Expert Panel on Immigration which published the report Routes to Success and led to the province’s first immigration legislation (2015); she was also a member of the provincial government’s Income Security Reform Working Group, which in October of 2017 published Income Security: A Roadmap for Change. Ms. Douglas is a member of the Immigration and Refugee Advisory Committee of Legal Aid Ontario and the federal government’s National Settlement & Integration Council, co-chairs the City of Toronto’s Newcomer Leadership Table and was appointed as a member of the provinces roundtable on Violence Against Women, and co-chaired the provincial Anti-Black Racism subcommittee. She is also currently on the Toronto Community Housing Corporation Board of Directors, and most recently was appointed to the Stephen Lewis Foundation Board of Directors. 

She is the recipient of several awards including the Women of Distinction from YWCA Toronto (2004); the Amino Malko award from the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture (2008) and the Urban Alliance on Race Relations Anti-Racism Award (2014). 

Robert Wright

Robert Seymour Wright is a Social Worker and Sociologist whose 31 year career has spanned the fields of education, child welfare, forensic mental health, trauma, sexual violence, and cultural competence. A “clinician/academic/administrator,” he has always integrated his work delivering direct practice clinical service to clients with teaching and supervising interns, and promoting lasting systemic change through social policy advocacy.

He also consults, trains, speaks and comments on a wide range of issues. His extensive pro bono work gave birth to The Peoples’ Counselling Clinic, a non-profit mental health clinic. His pioneering work with colleagues in cultural competence and conducting cultural assessments has received national attention.

Robert Seymour Wright

Courtnay McFarlane

Courtnay McFarlane

Courtnay McFarlane is a Jamaican-born visual artist, poet and spoken word performer whose work has been published in several African Canadian and Queer anthologies including: Fiery Spirits, and Voices: Writers of African Canadian Descent, Word-up, and Plush. He co-edited, along with Douglas Stewart, Debbie Douglas, and Makeda Silvera, the Sister Vision Press publication Ma-Ka Diasporic Juks: Contemporary Writing by Queers of African Descent. His performance poetry was recently featured in Phillip Pike’s documentary “Our Dance of Revolution.”

Over the last few decades, he has been an active volunteer in Black and LGBTQ+ community organizations such as the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention, and Inside Out. Courtnay was a founding member of AYA, a ‘90s Toronto-based group for Black queer men, and Blackness Yes!, the organizing committee for the Blockorama event at Pride. He recently curated Legacies in Motion: Black Queer Toronto Archival Project that unearthed and celebrated the political and cultural activism of Black LGBTQ communities in Toronto in the 1980s and 1990s. Legacies in Motion was exhibited at BAND Gallery and at the ArQuives as part of the 2019 Myseum Intersections Festival.

CRRF / FCRR - Canadian Race Relations Foundation } Fondation canadienne des relations raciales

We acknowledge the support of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation with funding provided by the Government of Canada.