M’CHIGEENG—This Friday, May 19, the Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) Rainbow Rights Group will be hosting its annual Pride Day event.
The school has been holding a Pride Day for several years, with this year’s theme ‘Embracing Rural Diversity.’
“We will be selling t-shirts and sundaes as a fundraiser for the group during the event starting at 11:30 am,” explained Sarah Seabrook, who supervises the Rainbow Rights group and is a Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions Worker at the school. “There will also be some vendors present. At 1 pm we will be having a school-wide assembly and Derek Forgie will be talking to the staff and students about equity and diversity. This is our first big event and we are really excited.”
An actor, comedian and activist, Derek Forgie will be presenting on equality, promoting acceptance before intolerance.
“I heard Derek speak at the Espanola High School,” shared Ms. Seabrook. “He is the founder and chair of Heterosexuals for Same-Sex Equality (HHSE) and he speaks to equality and inclusion in a cool way that I think the students will enjoy.”
Ms. Seabrook said that students at MSS have established an Equity Group, but that she is hoping to combine it and the Rainbow Alliance.
“Equity is about people wanting to fight for everyone to be included,” she added. “A focus on no matter what gender, race or sexual orientation, everyone is included.”
Ms. Seabrook, a Child and Youth Mental Health and Addiction Worker with Noojmowin Teg Helath Centre, started at MSS last October thanks to funding from Bell Let’s Talk. She attends MSS twice a week working specifically with LGBTQ2S youth.
As part of her role at MSS Ms. Seabrook oversees the Rainbow Rights group, providing counselling to students in need, hosts an art therapy group and is currently organizing a graffiti workshop for students.
“I think it is good for the students to have an adult in the school who can identify with them and knows the hurdles of being out on Manitoulin,” she explained.
Ms. Seabrook said that she has been working on teaching the difference to students between bullying and violence. “Violence is to target someone because of who they are,” she said. “It is very different than just regular bullying.”
“I hope that through events like this Pride Day, we can start to change the culture and help everyone feel more included,” Ms. Seabrook said. “It has definitely already changed so much since I was a student at MSS—20 years ago no one was ‘out’ and there was no alliance—now we are hosting this big pride event. It’s amazing.”
Also as part of the Pride Day, there will be an official presentation, marking the $35,000 in funding from Bell Let’s Talk to Noojmowin Teg for Ms. Seabrook’s one year, part-time position at MSS.