The STRUT launch was held on March 28th, 2015 at the Junction cabaret in Vancouver’s Davie Village. Over 250 colorful guests attended and there were many highlights. Most notable were the stories shared of two courageous newcomers who both arrived in Canada as refugees. Speakers Tannaz (Iran) and Moe (Gambia) were incredibly inspiring as the both shared their personal struggles and offered hope for the future. You could hear a pin drop in the room as the eyes of an attentive audience welled with tears.
Symone Says set off an evening of festivities as an amazing hostess. She opened with an fitting number, “These Boots are Made for Walking”. Kara-Kata Afrobeat provided an evening of upbeat and energetic African music while the models, both men and women, strutted their stuff on the runway in stylish stilettos to the cheers of the audience.
The launch party captured the purpose and vision of why the Foundation of Hope was created – to ensure LGBT+ refugees across the world have an opportunity to be successful and feel supported from their first step onward, either towards safety or to a new life in Canada.
STRUT is a one-mile walk-a-thon in heels for LGBT+ refugees, asylum seekers, and newcomers to Canada. The whole concept behind STRUT centers around what a privilege it is to freely express one’s gender identity in Canada, without fear of government or societal persecution. It is hard to imagine having to wait in fear over a lifetime, then manage to escape and get off a plane not knowing where to go with barely enough money to eat, find housing, or gain access to basic healthcare. This would be a challenge for any newcomer seeking asylum, but less so than also having to navigate a system that has little understanding of LGBT+ issues.
Refugees do not need pity; they require access to services that are non-discriminatory.
STRUT is our community’s chance to show how open and accepting we truly are. Walking a mile in heels demonstrates the power and perseverance of the struggle for equality around the world. This walk-a-thon is going to be hard, but in some countries, it could very well be deadly.
Come STRUT with us on June 6th, 2015 @ www.STRUTvancouver.ca