Joe Wickenhauser has seen change in Moose Jaw happen slowly but surely.
© Times-Herald photo by Nathan Frank.
Bobbi Gelsinger, left, Leo Keiser, Karli Jessup, and Brandi Arnold lounge at the Better Together Community Fair on Saturday.
Wickenhauser, the chair of Moose Jaw Pride spoke to the Times-Herald during the Better Together Community Fair at the Moose Jaw Multicultural Centre on Saturday.
The fair was meant to bring together community groups and organizations that provide support or service to the gender and sexually diverse community.
“I think it’s really good to have a steady presence, because I think we are all afraid of difference in a big way,” explained Wickenhauser. “When you keep that difference present it is not so scary anymore.
Sixteen groups were featured at the fair, with the focus on offering interested people information on support services in the city and surrounding area. An example of one of the groups at the fair is the Moose Jaw Family Service Bureau, which offers counseling.
“I think mental health is a big concern,” said Wickenhauser. “When you are facing a lot of discrimination it’s really important to have those supports services in place.”
Wickenhauser has seen progress in the city and in Moose Jaw Pride, which became a non-profit this year. He said he has a lot of hope for the future.
“It has been really encouraging to see so much support from our community and to see so many people that have been telling us, ‘good for you, we are really glad that you are having this,’” he said.
This year’s pride week was record breaking and had a good turnout, said Wickenhauser, before adding that they have had great media attention —not only from the traditional media, but also on social media too.
“We have had people literally from around the world that are liking our page, making comments and re-tweeting and just showing us encouragement and support.”
Despite the progress, however, Wickenhauser still believes there is a long way to go, including a number of different services the community needs and a number of issues that need to be addressed.
One service that is lacking he said is the absence of gender and sexuality alliances in school (traditionally known as Gay/straight alliance).
Wickenhauser also mentioned that another key stepping stone in Moose Jaw is for nursing homes to acknowledge the existence of gender and sexual diversity and to provide services to these seniors.
“As someone who has written my masters thesis on this topic I can confidently state this a pressing need.” he told the audience at the pride flag raising ceremony.
Pride week wraps up today. For more details Moose Jaw Pride, check out moosejawpride.ca.
Nathan Frank can be reached at 306-691-1263.