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UR Pride Centre closing off-campus Regina community space after losing core funding

While UR Pride is closing its off-campus centre, 'the dream of having a year-round, brick-and-mortar, sober space for the queer community is not over,' says the organization's executive director. 'We internally are seeing this as a bump in the road.' (Eduardo Lima/The Canadian Press - image credit)
While UR Pride is closing its off-campus centre, 'the dream of having a year-round, brick-and-mortar, sober space for the queer community is not over,' says the organization's executive director. 'We internally are seeing this as a bump in the road.' (Eduardo Lima/The Canadian Press - image credit)

A community centre that served as a drop-in and meeting place for 2SLGBTQ organizations and programs in Regina is closing its doors as of March 31 after losing its core funding.

The programming that was offered in Space — the name of the UR Pride Centre for Sexuality & Gender Diversity's off-campus community centre, on Albert Street in the city's downtown — will continue at the centre's location on the University of Regina campus.

That's a positive, says the executive director of the U of R's Pride organization.

"It was not an easy decision for our organization to make," UR Pride executive director Ariana Giroux said in an interview Thursday.

"Realistically, due to a lack of resources as well as a trend that we've seen across the queer non-profit sector across Canada, there are less funds available."

Despite the setback, Giroux said she sees an opportunity.

"I really see this as a chance to do something bigger and better and more amazing in the future," she said.

Giroux added that it is the organization's goal to have a community space again.

"In the immediate … it's time to shore up our defences and come back to the core of what we do, and build back up from there," she said.

"The dream of having a year-round, brick-and-mortar, sober space for the queer community is not over. We internally are seeing this as a bump in the road."

Space isn't the only organization helping two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning people in Saskatchewan that is struggling.

Last week, OutSaskatoon said its executive director had resigned and nine staff members were laid off off as part of the "necessary steps to be able to continue serving the community."

And last fall, Moose Jaw Pride was dissolved due to financial liabilities.

Bigger picture in the queer non-profit sector

UR Pride's Space was primarily funded through grants, including some initial funding from the federal government, but Giroux said most grants available to such centres are project-based. That makes it incredibly difficult to get ongoing funding for simple things like paying rent and other bills, she said.

The constant funding uncertainty burns queer leaders in the community out, and makes it difficult to sustain the efforts of non-profits, says Jacq Brasseur, CEO and principal consultant with Ivy + Dean Consulting — a business they started after years in the sector themselves.

On top of the general pressures of running a non-profit, queer people — especially trans women and queer and trans people of colour — are under threat, Brasseur said.

"[Organizations] are seeing an interest from funders to fund LGBTQ communities, but only in a really specific way," they said in an interview. Brasseur also said they work with many queer and trans organizations across the country.

"It's not sexy to say 'we've been running a youth group for 15 years.' That's not flashy, that's not something new and exciting," they said.

"But that is something that is life-saving. I think that there's sort of this desire to be able to check off a box, and say, 'Look — we don't hate gay people. We supported the community once.' And that's not enough."

Brasseur said provincial funding and support should be available for these types of organizations.

For her part, UR Pride's Giroux is looking to the future of the organization and her goals.

"As people working in the queer sector, one of the big things is it's exhausting.… People get attacked, people get harassed publicly, people are under a constant microscope," Giroux said.

"In the immediate, our goal is to find a way to ensure that our leadership has a sense of stability in the position."