Vancouverites are walking in heels to raise funds for LGBT+ refugees

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STRUT (June 9, 2018) is an annual walk-a-thon that raises money for LGBT+ refugees coming to Canada.

Ben Owens Photography

Here’s a startling fact:

Homosexuality is still a criminal offense in 79 countries worldwide.

As a result, people from all over the world are at risk of being persecuted, harmed, jailed, or murdered through state-sponsored persecution or honour killing, simply for being themselves.

Fortunately, Foundation of Hope (FOH), organizes special initiatives to raise funds and support sponsorship groups and charities that actively assist LGBT+ refugees who have been forced to flee their homes and come to Canada. This includes private sponsorship groups under Canada’s Private Refugee Sponsorship Program and any Canadian charities working to assist LGBT+ Newcomers to Canada through community services.

Ben Owens Photography

The annual STRUT walk-a-thon is one of those initiatives.

With a serious mission in tow, STRUT is a very fun and very silly event that makes a huge impact on soon-to-be members of the community. STRUT participants get decked out in their most playful outfits and walk a mile (or two) in high heels, all to raise funds to support LGBT+ immigrants and refugees in need.

The primary goal of the event is to raise $60,000, which will be distributed to initiatives and services that are badly needed to assist LGBT+ asylum seekers and refugees. One of those initiatives is Rainbow Refugee, a Canadian organization based in Vancouver, BC that assists refugees facing persecution of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or HIV+ status.

Grant Malo Photography

“Rainbow Refugee is particularly grateful for the Foundations of Hope support,” says Rainbow Refugee Board Chair, Sharalyn Jordan. With the support of FOH, Rainbow Refugee has been able to form a coalition that is “ in dialogue with the Federal Government to create an action plan that addresses problems that prevent LGBTQI+ refugees from reaching safety and that ensures that communities across the country are ready to support their arrival. ”

Furthermore, proceeds will be distributed as grants to frontline community services actively assisting LGBT+ refugees and newcomers to settle and integrate into Canadian life.

Belle Ancell Photography

Foundation of Hope is the only organization of their kind in Canada. They’re a 100% volunteer-based organization that financially assists Canadian charities working to help LGBT+ Asylum Seekers, Refugees, and Newcomers to Canada. Last year alone, FOH saw $70,000 in grants go out to these charities, in addition to millions of Aeroplan miles gifted as part of the awards for a number of grant recipients.

FOH goes above and beyond fundraising however. In 2017, FOH stood alongside their network of partners in a show of solidarity that led to a “Call to Action” as a directive from the Government of Canada. It is intended to better address persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE).

 

Grant Malo Photography

These recommendations were the result of testimonials provided by Canadian civil society groups to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. The committee was studying effectiveness of the federal Rainbow Refugee Assistance Program (RRAP), which complements the benefits provided by FOH through its grant administration process.

Andrew Benson Photography

Grant funding from FOH is entirely grassroots and administered through the volunteer efforts of the working Board of Directors and its community member and donor base. Together with the RRAP, these resources are invaluable to the charities across Canada that are actively doing the work on the ground.

Flouting gender norms is a symbol of power and resistance in the LGBT+ community; the freedom to do, act, wear, say or be who they wish without fear of persecution is still a privilege, though it should be a fundamental right. Remember, you might just see shoes, but an LGBT+ refugee sees hope.

STRUT VANCOUVER WALK-A-THON

Where: June 9, 2018 (11:00pm – 3:00pm
Where: Sunset Beach (1204 Beach Avenue, Vancouver B.C.)

Register HERE or sponsor a participant HERE.

To learn more, visit strutvancouver.ca