Steinbach United has become an Affirming Ministry!

Steinbach United Church is a community of faith that actively supports justice and inclusion and began 8 years ago on an Affirming journey.  Together we listened, studied, shared stories, faced challenges and updated policies.

On March 14th they celebrated becoming an Affirming Ministry within The United Church of Canada!  If you would like to view the service it can be found on their website: http://steinbachunitedchurch.ca/ministers-message.

October 2020 – Bill C-6: Federal Conversion Therapy Ban is approved and sent to committee.

Members of Parliament voted 308-7 in favour of inclusion and diversity in Canada when they passed Bill C-6 which would criminalize conversion therapy. The bill is now before a committee and amendments may be brought forward before a third and final reading in the House.

What is conversion therapy? Conversion therapy involves various practices that attempt to change an individuals’ sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Bill C-6 proposes legislative amendments to the Criminal Code.

The legislation recommends five new Criminal Code offences related to conversion therapy. These include:

  • causing a minor to undergo conversion therapy
  • removing a minor from Canada to undergo conversion therapy abroad
  • causing a person to undergo conversion therapy against their will
  • profiting from providing conversion therapy
  • advertising an offer to provide conversion therapy.

Many Canadian professional associations such as the Canadian Psychological Association, the Canadian Psychiatric Association and the Canadian Pediatric Association state that the practice of conversion therapy is harmful to LGBTQ2S persons, especially minors. Conversion therapy is centered on the false idea that any sexual orientation other than heterosexuality and any gender identity other than cisgender, is not normal or is an illness that can and should be changed.  Conversion therapy is not only ineffective, it has devastating effects for those undergoing this therapy such as anxiety, depression, stigma, self-hatred and suicidal thoughts and suicide.

All Liberal, Bloc Quebecois, New Democrat, Green and independent MPs who took part in the vote supported the bill.  7 Conservative MPs including Ted Falk, MP for Provencher, voted against the bill.  In an article on Steinbach Online on Nov.18, 2020, Mr. Falk said that the topic of conversion therapy is one that generates more correspondence from his constituents than any other issue. He suggested that an overwhelming majority of those who contact his office in regards to this bill also feel that the bill is flawed.  Steinbach Neighbours received a copy of a letter written by a mother from the Provencher constituency that was sent to Mr. Falk in support of Bill C-6.  Permission to share this powerful letter of advocacy and support for LGBTQ2S individuals has been given and the letter appears below (names have been removed to protect privacy).

In the midst of a pandemic when it is more difficult to gather in support of shared causes, we must remain vigilant and follow the progression of this Bill C-6 to ensure that it does become law this time around.  We ask other allies in the Provencher riding who wish to express their support for Bill C-6 to contact Mr. Ted Falk using the information below. 

Ted Falk, MP
76 PTH 12 N
Steinbach, MB
R5G 1T4
Tel: (204) 326-9889
Toll free 1 866 333-1933
Fax: 204 346-9874
ted.falk.c1@parl.gc.ca

It is the hope of Steinbach Neighbours for Community that Bill C-6 will ultimately be proclaimed, ensuring that all Canadians can live safely and freely as their true authentic selves.  Canada is stronger when it recognizes, protects and celebrates diversity.

________________________________________________________

Letter written by a mother from the Provencher constituency
sent to Mr. Falk in support of Bill C-6

Dear Mr. Falk,
My name is XXXXXXXXX,  I am a constituent in your riding of Provencher. I am a registered nurse, and a mother of three children. I am writing to you after reading an article on Steinbach Online about your stance on Bill C-6, a bill to ban conversion therapy in Canada. I read that you were one of 7 MPs to vote against this bill. You said that this is the top issue that your constituents contact you about, and that most of them side with you on this issue.
Included is a picture of my beautiful transgender daughter. My daughter has known since the age of 2.5 that she is a girl, not a boy as we had assumed when she was born.  Thankfully I was somewhat aware of transgender people, and I knew that we could choose to listen to what our child consistently told us, or face a nearly 50% chance of having her attempt suicide in the future.  I had many fears initially, but I did my research, and learned that young children are very aware of who they are in terms of their gender at a very young age, and that gender diversity is normal, healthy, and has existed forever, in all cultures.
Transgender people who are supported by their families have suicide and depression rates similar to the rest of the population.  My daughter is a very typical 6 year old girl. She has many friends and is loved by all of her extended family members for who she is.  She enjoys sports, she loves animals, she is thoughtful, happy, and she does fantastic at school, where she is also accepted fully as herself.
My daughter will never know what conversion therapy feels like, but I want to write to you in hopes that I can sway you on your position against banning this harmful practice.
Here is a quote from the Steinbach Online article:
“I think folks are recognizing the threat that this bill poses and it’s just not a good bill,” says Falk. “It really challenges and undermines parental rights, threatens religious freedom and threatens freedom of expression and speech. And people recognize it for what it is and they are very concerned.”
As parents we do not have the right or ability to determine who our children are.  This doesn’t mean that we should let our children live without rules, guidance or boundaries.  We are responsible for what foods we offer, how much TV our children are allowed, and what time they go to bed, etc.  We must teach them kindness, and to treat others with respect and fairness.  But a person’s gender identity and sexual orientation are not choices for them, and they are not something we can change.  We do not own our children.  We must love and accept them for who they ARE, not who we expected them to be.  There are no such thing as parental RIGHTS when it comes to who our children love and know themselves to be.
I agree with freedom to religion, but it needs to end where it causes clear harm to another person, as is the case with conversion therapy. I know many Christians who have shown love and support to our transgender daughter, and I know of many Christians who support their own transgender and gay children.  If a particular religion is telling you that it is okay to cause harm to an entire group of people, despite the clear, consistent evidence that there is nothing wrong with them then please stop and ask yourself what impact your religion is having on the world.  Please advocate for religious leaders to learn and adapt and become inclusive, and stop harming people. When we know better we have to do better.
I understand that some folks are concerned that the wording of this bill leaves parents and religious leaders at risk of no longer being able to have discussions about gender and sexuality.  Please consider that the way we speak to our children about diversity has such a profound impact on the way they will grow and treat the millions of LGBTQ+ people who exist in the world.  It has an impact on the discrimination they will face. It has an impact on how many will be murdered. It has an impact on how many will lead full, happy, productive, meaningful lives.
Today, November 20, is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to honour the hundreds of trans people murdered annually.  I am reminded of the fears that I have for my daughter, and that I must speak up and hope for change, especially here in our part of the province where I have seen transphobia and homophobia shared freely in the 10 years that I’ve lived here.  Please consider the many  LGBTQ+ children who do not have supportive families who will love them unconditionally. It is these people who need their rights protected, not parents and not religious leaders.
I am sad, but not shocked that so many others in this area share your beliefs about this.  I know that if you could meet my daughter you would see that there is nothing wrong with supporting an LGBTQ+ child. For her, there was no choice. There was no force. There is no abuse, she is not confused, and she is not sinning. She is just living her life, genuinely as who she knows herself to be.
Thank-you for reading this. I hope you will think of my daughter when you vote in the future.

Books that Encourage Empathy and Inclusivity

Below is a list of books that encourage empathy and inclusivity. Click the book title to link to a site where you can purchase it.

  1. The Big Orange SplotDaniel Manus Pinkwater
  2. Suki’s KimonoChiere Uegaki and Stephanie Jorisch
  3. Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine DressChristine Baldacchino
  4. The Family BookTodd Parr
  5. The Sissy DucklingHarvey Fierstein
  6. All Families Are SpecialNorma Simon
  7. Have You Filled a Bucket Today?Carol McCloud
  8. How Full is Your Bucket?( for kids)Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer
  9. Pink is For BoysRobb Pearlman
  10. The Crayon Box that TalkedShane DeRolf
  11. Red:  A Crayon’s StoryMichael Hall
  12. Bear For Breakfast – Robert Munsch
  13. All Are WelcomeAlexandra Penfold
  14. Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow FlagRob Sanders
  15. Julian Is A MermaidJessica Love
  16. The WhispersGreg Howard
  17. I Am JazzJessica Herthel
  18. Jacob’s New Dress Ian Hoffman and Sarah Hoffman
  19. Families, Families, Families!Suzanne Lang
  20. The Great Big Book of FamiliesMary Hoffman
  21. Ruby, Head HighIrene Cohen-Janca
  22. Hair LoveMatthew A. Cherry
  23. We’re Different, We’re the Same But We’re All WonderfulBobbi Jane Kates
  24. One FamilyGeorge Shannon
  25. Who’s In My FamilyRobie H. Harris
  26. Love Makes A FamilySophie Beer
  27. The Water WalkerJoanne Robertson
  28. Stone SoupMarcia Brown
  29. Sammy’s VisitVal Plett Reimer
  30. This Is How It Always IsLaurie Frankel
  31. And Tango Makes Three Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
  32. I Need A Hug Susie Linn
  33. The Colour of UsKaren Katz
  34. Hedgehog Goes to KindergartenLynne Marie
  35. Giraffes Can’t Dance Giles Andreae & Guy Parker-Rees
  36. We All Sing With the Same VoiceJ. Philip Miller + Sheppard M Greene
  37. A Family is a FamilySara O’Learya

Growing Up Inclusive

Saturday, January 25, 2020, 10 am -2 pm
Steinbach Curling Club357 Elmdale Street 2nd Floor (Accessible)

We are excited to invite you to:
Connecting Neighbours: GROWING UP INCLUSIVE

RAISING INCLUSIVE KIDS – MaryLou Driedger
How do we help our children develop inclusive attitudes so they can play a vital role in the creation of caring communities where everyone feels welcome?

GROWING UP SAFE AND STRONG – Val Hiebert
An examination of Erikson’s classic psycho-social theory of child development applied to our everyday lives as parents, communities, and our own childhood histories.

• Free Admission
• Lunch is included
• Conversation circles

For further information contact Val Hiebert at:
val.hiebert@prov.ca or 433-7488 (ext. 204) or 379-9652.

Devout & Out

Friday, November 1, 2019, 7 pm
Roadhouse 52 Inn & Suites, 375 N Front Dr. B, Steinbach.

Steinbach Neighbours for Community invites you to join them in viewing the CBC documentary series, Devout & Out.
This series introduces us to LGBTTQI* individuals who have chosen to become or remain leaders in the church. Each episode follows one person, documenting their journey as they navigate their sexuality, identity and faith, as well as their relationship with their churches and with God. These individuals are pushing boundaries, breaking barriers and challenging secular and religious expectations of what it means to live faithfully today.

Following each documentary there will be time to discuss what we have seen and heard.  The evening begins at 7 p.m. with refreshments. The first documentary will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Conversation circles will follow each video. Free Admission.  For further information contact Val Hiebert at val.hiebert@prov.ca or 433-7488 (ext. 204) or 379-9652.

Queer Hutterite: Misfit on the Colony

The following story is not “new news”, but one that SNFC feels is important to highlight and share. Kelly Hofer is a photographer and gay-rights activist based in Calgary. Here is his story:

Kelly Hofer knew he wasn’t a fit from the start. At the age of nineteen he came out on Facebook, after leaving the Hutterite colony near Wawanesa, Manitoba, the only home he had ever known. The reaction by his people was extreme. Hear him tell his story in the video, Queer Hutterite: Misfit on the Colony.

Circle of Trust for Parents

The Parent Circle meets every second Wednesday of the month at Steinbach United Church, 541 Main St. from 7-9 p.m.
Steinbach Neighbours for Community invites parents of LGBTTQI* children and youth to a space of discovery, parent to parent, about our journey in our community. We look forward to our conversations, guided by Bonnie Loewen.

Parent Circle: A Circle of Trust

The Parent Circle meets every second Wednesday of the month at Steinbach United Church, 541 Main St. from 7-9 p.m, with the exception of Jan. 9, 2019.
Steinbach Neighbours for Community invites parents of LGBTTQI children and youth to a space of discovery, parent to parent, about our journey in our community. We look forward to our conversations, guided by Bonnie Loewen.

Steinbach Pride March – July 21, 2018

Steinbach’s third annual Pride March was held in downtown Steinbach on Saturday, July 21. 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.

Pearl’s message:

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. 

Thank you.

Connecting Neighbours

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. Full descriptions of each session can be found on our home page.  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!

 

Movie Night: Prayers for Bobby

Friday, October 27 at 7:00 p.m.
Steinbach Cultural Arts Centre, 304-2nd St.
Free Admission

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 neighboursforcommunity@gmail.com.

Second Pride March for Steinbach

July 15, 2017: Attendees at the 2017 Pride March used words like “peaceful”, “more accepting”, and “much more relaxed” to describe the atmosphere at this year’s event. Recently retired minister, George Feenstra, likened it to “a church picnic, it’s so peaceful and gentle and good.” SNFC committee member, Gay Boese, was invited to speak, and you can read her message to the community here. Other reviews, videos and photos can be perused on the following sites:

CBC.ca: ‘Absolutely amazing’: Hundreds flock to Manitoba’s Bible Belt for Steinbach’s 2nd Pride march

The Winnipeg Sun: Second Steinbach Pride Parade a success

Laughter is Sacred Space, May 12, 2017, SRSS 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 are $12, available now at the Steinbach Arts Centre.

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…Voices Among Us, 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:)

Hanover School Division Policies

At separate meetings of the Hanover School Division Trustees, presentations were made by Michelle McHale (parent), and Mika Schellenberg (SRSS student) asking Hanover School Division Trustees to re-write their policies to protect LGBTTQI* youth from bullying, to welcome teachers to speak about LGBTTQI* issues in their classrooms, to allow teachers to protect the confidentiality of LGBTTQI* youth who are in conversation with them, and to provide curriculum that is inclusive of same-sex families. SNFC members were present for Mika’s presentation where she received a standing ovation.

At the June 7th public meeting of the Hanover School Division Trustees, each trustee offered a response to the requests of Michelle McHale and Mika Schellenberg.  While two trustees spoke strongly in favor of revising policies regarding “Sensitive Content”, others were strongly opposed.  As a result of comments made by a few of the trustees, Michelle McHale and her partner lodged a Human Rights Complaint, which is now in process.

tc_local_Michelle-McHale

tc_local_HSD-trustees mika-schellenberg-presents-to-hsd

From the Media:

Still Listening: Voices Among Us

voices-among-us-oct-2016

October 28 and 29, 2016

Steinbach Neighbours for Community presented Still Listening:Voices Among Us to full houses on October 28 and 29, 2016 at the SRSS Theatre in Steinbach.

Voices Among Us is a collection of stories as told by people living in our community. These stories, delivered through theatre, poetry and music, represent a wide range of people, some who identify as LGBTTQI*; other accounts come from family, friends and allies. Each story is being lived by the person who was willing to share their narrative with us and with you, our audience.

The play was well received, and comments included large measures of gratitude for the strides being made in making room for conversation in our community.

 

Vigil for Orlando

June 14, 2016, Tuesday, 8 p.m.  

K.R. Barkman Park, Steinbach

Steinbach Neighbours For Community, along with Steinbach Pride, invited the public to attend a vigil in response to the June 12th massacre in Orlando, Florida, in which forty-nine people were killed and more than fifty wounded while attending a gay nightclub.  The event, which drew 200 people, included speeches from several local and provincial spokespeople, as well as the reading of the names of the victims.

Media Links:

Listening for Grace

October 17, 2015

SRSS Theatre, Steinbach

Steinbach Neighbours for Community brought “Listening for Grace” to the city in an endeavour to open up a grace-filled dialogue about the LGBTTQ* presence in our community. Produced by Ted Swartz, Listening for Grace is a compelling and enlightening play that follows the story of a widowed father whose son has just come out as gay. Through his relationships with his son, an estranged cousin, people in his church and a pastor who deals with issues of sexuality in the Bible, the main character is challenged by many different viewpoints and experiences.

LFG Poster

The advance billing was so well received that SNFC had to add a second show. About 375 people attended.

Link to Carillon article

More information about Ted Swartz