Who knew back in the summer of 2014 that STRUT would bring in over a quarter of a million dollars in just five short years?
Well, we did.
That’s because of the unwavering vision and enthusiasm of Carl Meadows, a champion of the cause for safe migration of LGBT+ refugees. Carl brought a small group of committed citizens together to change the world.
Sound familiar? It should. Last year FOH made its 4th annual STRUT walk, which coincided with 40 years of celebrating Pride in Vancouver. This year, our 5th STRUT walk coincided with 50 years of decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada and brought in over $50,000.
It is certainly a great trajectory and FOH’s prospects for growth and expansion are even better with some exciting new partnerships we will be rolling out in the coming months.
One such partnership is with the UNHCR, a global body established to identify and address the worldwide refugee crisis. This year FOH was invited to participate in UNHCR’s global awareness campaign. It was the perfect complement to the funds we raise locally with the collective distance we would walk in solidarity through STRUT.
Along with over $50,000 in funds raised, FOH saw 74 participants walk together in collective total of 119 km this year. Over the past five years, that amounts to 552 participants and 840 km, which can now be added to the 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety campaign.
Funds raised through STRUT will continue to go directly into grants awarded to Canadian charities working to resettle SOGIE migrants, but this was an opportunity for our local grassroots movement to go even further and contribute to a global awareness movement to #StepWithRefugees worldwide.
The fresh injection of donor funds can now be used to support the six grant applications led by our community partners in Vancouver and Toronto. These are currently under review for both LGBT+ refugee private sponsorship support and newcomer community service projects.
The timing was also just right for STRUT this year, falling on the heels of the announcement by the Government of Canada to expand its support for LGBT+ private resettlement efforts. Thanks to the work of the Rainbow Coalition for Refuge , the ongoing consultations that have persisted since 2017 with Global Affairs Canada and IRCC are finally paying off!
Private resettlement support of LGBT+ individuals facing persecution worldwide will involve a five-year extension of the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Program (RRAP) and an expanded $800,000 funding commitment. Rainbow Refugee founder Chris Morrissey came to make the announcement about the RRAP before participants strutted their stuff on the seawall.
Our community partners that benefit from FOH grants showed up in teams, including MOSAIC, Qmunity, and VAST, along with members from numerous Circles of Hope and corporate teams led by TELUS and TD Bank.
We are ever grateful for all the corporate sponsors and partners that came onboard, old and new. These include the 2019 platinum partner TELUS and platinum sponsor Hootsuite, as well as the supportive partnerships with Ruby Blues Winery, DJ Krista, Fountainhead, Glacier Media, Portable Electric, and Innocent Ice Cream.
Of course we cannot go without acknowledging our faithful long-standing contributors that include TD Bank, Pacific Alps Retirement, Kevin Perra Realty, PI Financial, Fluevog Shoes, Body Energy Club, and Andrew Beckerman.
Special thanks also go out to Squamish Elder Byron Yususultxw Longclaws and Hlgu Ni’is Yu’us (Terry Azak) of Nisga’a Nation for their annual opening welcome and blessing. We also thank Miss Gloria Hole and Miss Mina Mercury of Tuck Entertainment for the spectacular performance. Thanks to Christopher Hunte and Barb Snelgrove, respectively, for their continual support with the event programming and for hosting the affair. Big thanks as well to Jay Brotherton at HIM (those legs!) for leading the warm up event.
We are so grateful to welcome Outook TV as a dedicated LGBT+ media partner and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are an unmistakable presence year upon year. Tremendous thanks to Brian Houle for his incredible photography.
And of course, we are so fortunate for all the donors, volunteers, and STRUT walkers who took the time to support this cause and raise the funds that enable safe migration of LGBT+ asylum seekers and refugees worldwide.
In the words of Carl Meadows, it truly does take a village.