Steinbach Pride March – July 21, 2018
Steinbach’s third annual Pride March was held in downtown Steinbach on Saturday, July 21, with an estimated 500 people in attendance. SNFC was pleased to be represented by committee member Pearl Barz, who delivered an incisive address calling for our citizens to seek and find that common ground above and beyond our differences. Read a full account of the event here.
Good morning, my name is Pearl and I am speaking to you this morning on behalf of Steinbach Neighbours for Community. We are a group of people, mostly local, but some from surrounding communities as well, who care about many forms of diversity and equality in our communities. For now we have identified and are focusing on the needs and challenges being faced among the LGBTTQI.
Our resources have been put into having conversations, to provide insight, education and understanding, working to network and build bridges beyond one’s immediate social network. We want to promote greater inclusion for all people throughout Southeastern Manitoba, fostering healthy and wholesome communities.
Over the summer months Pride parades and marches will be taking place all across Canada. We want to embrace events like this that work towards inclusion, acceptance and understanding of our neighbours, a place where we can all find common ground.
Today we want to celebrate the people in our community who are making a difference. Today that is you, our neighbours. We all have opportunities every day to change the world. It’s amazing what the efforts of an individual or group of individuals can do to create change, if not in the world at least their local neighbourhood.
Over the years I have had the privilege of listening to some wonderful Indigenous speakers. Often speakers start their address to a group with the phrase “to all my relations”. As I researched that phrase, taking a closer look, I learned that it is an Ojibwe phrase meaning – we are related, or all are related. Their understanding is that all living things are connected, to each other and to the Creator, the Higher Power. I cannot exist without you and you cannot exist without me. What I do affects you and others and what you do affects me. Everything we do has an effect on others and on our world.
It seems to be a call to unity, nothing or no one matters more or less than the next person. The phrase brings us into harmony and equality with each other as we find common ground with everyone and everything.
What can we do in our communities to bring us to this place, this place of unity? We can celebrate each other, living together as neighbours, valuing each person for who they are. Pride is about the varied expressions of the life, gifts, and talents of the entire community.
Being different from each other doesn’t mean that we can’t be unified, even disagreeing doesn’t mean we can’t find common ground. Unity isn’t about being the same; it’s about accepting our differences and still being good neighbours, choosing to love and respect each other. We need to create an inclusive society that over-rides any differences, a community that ensures inclusion and equality of opportunity of all its members.
So, I will borrow the Ojibwe phrase and say – “to all my relations” – let our words, attitudes, actions and involvements make our communities better places for everyone, celebrating our differences as we learn to find that common ground and live together as good neighbours.
SNFC in the Summer
Steinbach Neighbours for Community continues to invite parents of LGBTTQI children and youth to network with us through the summer months. Our members are happy to sit down with other parents, one-on-one, to listen and to share. Please feel free to contact us personally:
Leona Woodmass – firstname.lastname@example.org
Randy Hildebrand – email@example.com
Doug Klassen – firstname.lastname@example.org
Bonnie Loewen – email@example.com
Circle of Trust will reconvene with a new schedule in the fall season. Scroll down to read more about this group.
A Remarkable Story of a Mother and Son
Cindy Mills and her son, Ro Walker Mills, sat down with Bridget Forbes of CBC news to publicly tell their story for the first time. Ro identifies as a transgender male. Their honest account of what they both endured during those two years will stay with you. Read the interview here.
Bisexual Pastor Creates Space for Believers
“It took a many-year journey before Jamie Arpin-Ricci learned to reconcile his faith with his sexuality, largely because of social pressures he says still exist today in many conservative churches that alienate LGBTQ Christians like him.”
Arpin-Ricci is bisexual and leads Little Flowers Community, an Anabaptist, Franciscan-inspired church in the West End. His story appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press this week. You can read it here.
A Circle of Trust
Steinbach Neighbours for Community invites parents of LGBTTQI children to a space of discovery, parent to parent, about our journey in our community. We look forward to the conversation, guided by Bonnie Loewen. More details on the poster.
Saturday February 24, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
Pat Porter Centre, 10 Chrysler Gate, Steinbach
Five presenters have been invited to share their knowledge and experience, as we explore a variety of topics relevant to our community. The session topics include reading biblical texts in a new light, scientific research, intersex realities, stories from the transgender community and more. Each presentation will be followed by a conversation circle. There will be all-day refreshments and lunch at noon. Admission is free, and donations to cover costs are welcome. We hope to see you there!
The Spectrum of Sexuality
Val Hiebert is well-known to those who follow Steinbach Neighbours for Community. She is Professor of Sociology at Providence University College, and specializes in the sociology of gender, marriage and family, children and violence, consumer culture and simpler living. Val will walk us through a discourse on intersex people, born with ambiguous genitals. Read the full description in the handout below.
Dr. Heather Hinam, a naturalist and an award-winning artist and photographer, will open our eyes to the evolution of sexual behaviour and adaptations for mating and same-sex encounters in the animal world. A fascinating topic, to be sure!
Besides his work at the Rainbow Resource Centre, Muhammed Ahsan has facilitated leadership retreats and conferences throughout North America and the European Union, promoting cultural awareness about sexual identity, and focusing on a wide variety of learning interventions and policy-consulting assignments. He delivers his sessions with a contagious exuberance and energy that leave his listeners enthused for positive change.
A Place at the Table
They are Kalyn Falk and Ro Walker Mills are leading a session together, and theirs is a powerful story of friendship that grew out of learning from each other, creating space for each other, and ultimately becoming co-founders and co-directors of a social enterprise for transmen.
Bible Reception Without Borders
Please join us on Feb. 24th to hear Randall Holm, our first presenter at Connecting Neighbours. Click on the poster below to read more on this session.
In A Heartbeat is an animated short film in which a boy runs the risk of being outed by his own heart after it pops out of his chest to chase down the boy of his dreams.
An Invitation to Donate
As December arrives, Steinbach Neighbours for Community is offering its followers an opportunity to add us to your “Giving Season”. As a non-profit organization that receives no funding for projects and operating expenses, your highly valued donation allows us to continue and enhance our current programs within our community and beyond. Please go to our Donate page for more information. We thank you for your support.
Hanover School Division and Gender Diversity
HSD Superintendent Randy Dueck says a new document released by Manitoba Education will help the Hanover School Division going forward, as it looks at continuing to provide support for transgender and gender diverse students.
Read the article here.
The Gender Revolution: How Science Is Helping Us Understand Gender
In January 2017, National Geographic published a special, single-topic issue on the shifting landscape of gender. In their words, “To a degree unimaginable a decade ago, the intensely personal subject of gender identity has entered the public square. In this special issue of the magazine, we look at cultural, social, biological and personal aspects of gender.”
Click on the link to read the articles.
Erica Lea to Become First Openly LGBTQ Lead Pastor of Mennonite Church USA
Take this link to a news release introducing Erica Lea and the church in which she has been called to be a pastor. Following her studies at George W. Truett Theological Seminary in Texas, she served as interim pastor at Houston Mennonite Church, and it’s here that she developed a deep appreciation of Anabaptist theology and history. Erica Lea is the first openly LGBTQ individual to be called as a solo pastor in Mennonite Church USA.
Prayers for Bobby
Friday, October 27 at 7:00 p.m.
Steinbach Cultural Arts Centre, 304-2nd St.
Steinbach Neighbours for Community invites you to a movie night. Prayers for Bobby is a true story. Mary Griffith fights to “cure” her gay son. Although he tries to please his mother, Bobby cannot change, and his depression leads to suicide. Mary questions her faith and searches for comfort, ultimately changing her views in ways that she never could have imagined. A touching and ultimately healing story.
Join us for an opportunity to reflect and engage in conversation as this movie invites us to take a deeper look at a family divided and how they find strength and truth. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laughter is Sacred Space
Friday, May 12, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
Steinbach Regional Secondary School Theatre
Steinbach Neighbours for Community, in partnership with Eden Health Care Services, welcomes the return of Ted Swartz, who brought us Listening for Grace two years ago. Laughter is Sacred Space is part of Ted’s Human Faces Tour, in recognition of Mental Health Awareness month.
In this gritty and dramatic show, Ted walks us through his relationship with friend and business partner, Lee Eshleman, whose death by suicide stunned his community. Ted explores the paradox of working with a comedic partner struggling with bipolar disorder, as well as the challenge of writing and performing stories about God while experiencing the absence of God after Lee’s death.
Using multi-media and his twenty years of storytelling experience, Laughter is Sacred Space is honest, funny and vulnerable, and reveals the unique journey of working as a comedic actor under the shadow of a mental illness, offering hope and humour in a way that only Ted could deliver.
You can learn more about Ted Swartz and find a preview of the play at: http://www.tedandcompany.com/shows/laughter-is-sacred-space/
Tickets $12, available now at the Steinbach Arts Centre.
Steinbach Neighbours for Community invites parents of those who are LGBTTQI* to an informal evening of conversation on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 7-9 p.m. at the Steinbach Cultural Arts Centre, 302 Second St. Steinbach.
This will be the first of a series of monthly meetings, providing opportunity for parents to share personal stories, to relate observations, ask questions, and to learn more about the world of their LGBTTQI* child.
If you have questions, please contact Randy Hildebrand, Parent Network facilitator, at email@example.com.
Still Listening…Let’s Talk!
Steinbach Neighbours for Community invites you to an informal evening of conversation on February 9, 2017, 7 p.m. at the Steinbach Cultural Arts Centre, 302 Second St.
We continue to follow up on the interest generated by Still Listening, aware that safe and meaningful conversation is a goal highly appreciated in our community. We hope that the relaxed atmosphere and the promise of wholesome dialogue will encourage you to join us. There will be snacks:)
Steinbach Neighbours will soon be launching a Parents of LGBTTQI* network group. Stay tuned for details about this exciting new chapter!
December 1, 2016
It has been one month since Still Listening:Voices Among Us, and Steinbach Neighbours for Community would like to share the positive feedback that has flooded our inboxes and that has been the subject of conversations in our community. We continue to be grateful for the opportunity to gather and offer the stories that were told, and to play a part in calling our community to be better for everyone. Thank you for listening, for hearing and for answering that call.
And stay tuned for our community conversation follow-up evening in February!
Here are excerpts from the many emails received:
“The group did a fantastic job of “telling it like it is”. The stories portrayed were heart wrenching. I learned a lot about what people go through…their struggles, their loneliness, their feelings of rejection.”
“The method used to bring together real stories told in someone’s own words, offered up in a way that was respectful and safe for the storytellers, was powerful. The music added heart space and ways to sit with and absorb the text. What a gift to the community.”
“What a beautiful, moving, informative and hopeful production! I don’t think I’ve ever seen an audience hanging onto every word as much as they were tonight.”
“You could have heard a pin drop!”
“The dialogues, the music, all of it was powerful and so very moving. Everybody around me was crying so I don’t think anyone really noticed my sniffing. I cried even harder at one point when I noticed a gentleman ahead of me, close to my Dad’s age, wiping tears away.”
“On our walk home we spoke of how our grandchildren will never have to experience the pain from either parent or grandparent judging and denying their sexuality. The ripples in the pond are getting bigger and I believe these conversations will take on a different tone in our community.”
“I was moved to tears at Friday’s performance. Afterwards I went out for coffee with my dear friend who was mentioned by “Mr. Sawatzky”, as the parent of a gay son. He was truly moved by the evening and was so pleased that people in Southern Manitoba were having serious conversations about something that he and his family have been immersed in for decades”.
“I never would have dreamed that a play such as that one would have been put on in the SRSS theatre, or in Steinbach at all. I felt like the only gay person in the entire world when I was in high school and junior high. If I still lived in Steinbach, I know for a fact now that I would not feel alone.”
“I wish every Steinbach pastor would have seen that performance.”
“Thank you for the vision of finding ways to create another context for us to be neighbours for community. I experienced this evening as having the strength of circle upon circle, a wisdom that listens with humility, and the creative courage to show us what matters.”
October 30, 2016
“A Grandmother’s Heart” by MaryLou Driedger
I saw Still Listening….Voices Among Us on Friday night at the Steinbach Regional Secondary School theatre. Using music directed by Millie Hildebrand and a script written by Val Hiebert, a stage full of performers told the stories of people who grew up as members of the LGBTQ* community in the Steinbach area. The drama was based on interviews with dozens of people. Most of the words the actors spoke were taken verbatim from the interview transcripts. The evening’s performance was moving and thought-provoking and all the actors did a good job, but it was Evelyn Friesen playing the role of the grandmother Margaret who especially touched my heart and I’m sure those of many others in the audience.
In the drama Margaret’s grandson Alex tells her he is gay and she reacts in an accepting way. While others find it hard to come to terms with Alex’s sexual orientation his grandmother’s reaction is one of love. Later when the father of another girl in the play refuses to acknowledge or accept his lesbian daughter it is Grandmother Margaret who goes over to offer her a hug.
Evelyn, the woman who played the role of Margaret, is a member of the Steinbach church I attended for most of my life. I know that Evelyn is indeed a person of character and caring and perhaps that made her portrayal of the grandmother all the more meaningful for me.
Grandmother Margaret in the play reminded me of an older woman I was chatting with in my Winnipeg church a few Sundays ago. She proudly pulled out pictures of her grandson’s wedding to show me. She told me “what nice boys” both her grandson and his new partner were. The happy grandmother especially liked the photo of the two grooms smiling broadly with the beautiful quilt she had made them for a wedding present wrapped around their shoulders.
Yes times are changing. Communities are becoming more open to their LGBTQ* neighbors. And grandmothers may well be taking a leadership role when it comes to demonstrating an accepting and loving attitude.
MaryLou Driedger works as a facilitator for school programs at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and as a student supervisor for the education department at the University of Winnipeg. She has been a weekly columnist for The Carillon, a regional Manitoba newspaper since 1985, and has written curriculums, script, lyrics, and countless articles for travel, education, historical and religious publications. Her blog “What Next” can be found at https://maryloudriedger2.wordpress.com
October 28, 2016: This morning’s interview with CBC’s Marcy Markusa http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/still-listening-lgbt-play-steinbach-1.3825190
October 19, 2016: Read the interview with Val Hiebert, Steinbach Online
Welcome to Steinbach Neighbours for Community.
Steinbach Neighbours for Community is a group of individuals who share a desire to promote understanding and acceptance of the diversity present in our society. We acknowledge that there are numerous sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions, locally and globally. The common goal of SNFC is to facilitate the conversation while providing insight and education around this often divisive subject. We hope for healthy dialogue as we seek better understanding and full acceptance of LGBTTQI* members in our community and beyond.
As readers may be aware, there has been much in the media of late surrounding Steinbach as it wrestles with inclusion of the LGBTTQI* community. In the fall of 2014, a number of area people drove to Winnipeg to attend a play centered on this subject called “Listening for Grace”. The content of this presentation gave rise to the formation of Steinbach Neighbours for Community, a group that had long observed the need for a support organization for Steinbach’s LGBTTQI* citizens, their families and allies. Other proceedings spurred further call for discussion …. feedback surrounding Manitoba’s Bill 18, the departure of Steinbach and area LGBTTQI* residents who felt unwelcome, parents feeling isolated, and the presence of a GSA alliance at the public high school, among others.
This website is an ongoing project of SNFC. We aim to provide our readership with information pertaining to events and resources as we strive to relate to those in our community who identify as other than heterosexual. In time, we hope to create more spaces for LGBTTQI* people and their families to speak about their experiences, to share their insights and to tell their stories.