Project Seahorse consists of a small group of conservationists making a huge global impact. Doing work in over thirty countries they are celebrating a twenty year history of marine conservation including research, sustainable trade, education and outreach. Designed by Raymond Helkio this anniversary annual report combines a twenty year timeline, operations map plus gorgeous one-of-kind photos shot by their staff.
WEB DESIGN NEWS: TriAdventure and Nikibasika merge designs to create a mobile friendly, single-site experience for athletes, crew and donors. Over the coming months we’ve got lots more improvements planned both online and off. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or register now. This summer by training and fundraising for the annual TriAdventure; a 3 day event involving a 3km swim (or 15km run), 15km canoe, and 140km cycle. The money raised is the used for a home and long-term education for orphaned and vulnerable youth in Kasese, Uganda.
Our focus is to help these young adults become self-sustaining leaders in their communities. Each participant is supported with formal education beyond secondary school, and more important, with leadership development, career guidance, global and human rights awareness. Each young person also participates in a team where they create and lead a community-development project that helps people in need in their local area. Some of the kids are now adults and already working and giving back in their community. Registration for 2017 is now open, to help or to register as an athlete or crew, please click here. Registration will secure your spot and is limited as this is a small group.
Graphic design and website development support courtesy of Raymond Helkio.
Feature image: Kiiza and Blair Cox
Pictured above: Stephanie Stroka, Cate Creede, Yves Precourt and Lisa Hipgrave
Graphic design for the Dignity Initiative: Raymond Helkio | Recent years have witnessed significant progress in many countries around the world in the realization of the fundamental human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, from securing decriminalization of our sexuality and protection against discrimination to achieving recognition for our relationships and families.
But even where important gains have been made on some fronts, the recognition and protection of rights remains uneven. Trans people remain particularly vulnerable, and often without adequate legal protection, while the rights of intersex people rarely receive much discussion at all. Meanwhile, gender-based violence remains a reality for many LBTI women, including violence motivated by real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Factors such as class, race, ethnicity, (dis)ability, HIV status, migrant status, drug use, incarceration and sex work often exacerbate the vulnerability of LGBTI people to discrimination and violence.
To build on these efforts, in 2015 a working group of committed organizations and individuals came together to launch the Dignity Initiative, with the twin objectives of strength- ening both international solidarity work by Canadian civil society groups and Canada’s foreign policy commitment to supporting the realization of human rights for LGBTI people internationally. The working group includes representatives of organizations from around Canada, and is committed, within the scope of its resources, to a country-wide, collaborative approach that involves and engages with groups in every province and territory in pursuit of these twin objectives.
THE WAY FORWARD | Violence, criminalization and discrimination against LGBTI people require a comprehensive and consistent response from the Government of Canada. Canada has a valuable role to play in advancing the rights of LGBTI people. The Dignity Initiative is inspired by Canada’s existing efforts to protect and promote these rights. It is time for Canada to step up its efforts and take bold, strategic actions, in collaboration with local community advocates, to champion LGBTI rights at home and globally.
Download a PDF copy of
Advancing Dignity: Policy Report
Download a PDF copy of
Solidarity for Dignity: Civil Society Report
Visit the Dignity Initiate website for more information on this exciting initiative and how you can get involved.
When I heard that 49 of my Orlando brothers and sisters died as a result of the one man’s hate fuelled rampage I felt sick because I know it’s caused by a culture that rewards homophobia, sexism and oppression. Sometimes I wonder if we are no longer in modern times but have gone back in a time machine to more barbaric period and we just can’t see our own barbarism.
The real crime was not that Omar pulled the trigger on those innocent people but that our entire city jumped up in unison exclaiming ‘How can something like this happen given all the progress we’ve made?!” Yes we have made progress but the crime of this statement is that anyone saying it gets to remove themselves from what is actually happening. Adding further fuel to the fire was the media and public who went scrambling to make sense of this situation but instead of looking inwards at the pressure cooker of a culture we have created, people tried to make the situation about some extraordinary circumstances like how he was a product of ISIS, his father brainwashed him, he was mentally ill, etc. This is a problematic way to view a mass murder because now there is nothing we can learn if we dismiss their actions as highly unusual. Take a look at Omar Mateen’s face, he is not crazy. In fact I was bullied, picked on, tormented and harassed all the way through grade school by guys just like Omar. He’s not ill, he’s a product of this culture and is just one of many that make up the majority. Look at him. I’m serious, take a hard look at his picture and let’s not pretend that we are seeing something other then what it is. An arrogant boy who is as homophobic as he is a misogynist just like all the other bad boys our culture is supporting. Sure he made himself a connection through ISIS but I’m pretty sure he was an asshole before he sought to align with them. This is not the face of a killer, he is in fact the boy next door and that we should be very afraid of.
When the news of those 49 victims hit Toronto weeks prior to our biggest LGBT celebration it was an opportunity for the city to take a hard look at itself. And we did. At The 519 candlelight vigil the next evening the speeches were filled with rage, sadness and talk of being political once again. Suddenly Toronto remembered that while we may have won the battle, the war is far from over and most importantly we all learned that the world only appears safe to those who live in relative privilege. It’s sad and deeply tragic that we had to wake-up as the result of these deaths but at least these people will not die in vain. Even Pride Toronto delivered speeches that resembled something a leader who cares for the future of our planet would say.
And then Pride kicked in and the city partied, danced and completely forgot that we shouldn’t be having a party when we have so much work to do. Enter Black Lives Matter (BLM) who took Pride’s invitation to ‘Come Sit With Us’ quite literally and during the 30 minute sit-in protest gave this city a much needed gift: the gift of self-reflection but we still haven’t collectively proven that we are up to the challenge. Instead we are still arguing about whether the police should march in Pride or if #BLM tactics were fair or not. We’re all missing the opportunity for some self-refection because what we should be arguing about is how much we need to do with the police and the communities they are supposed to serve. What BLM did was morally courageous because they took an honoured position and used it to expose back the imbalance and injustices they experience including from organizations like Pride Toronto who instead of being inclusive has lost touch with it’s roots. BLM looked right into the whites of our eyes and demanded that we see and hear them. I see you, I hear you and I’m so sorry for the pain we keep causing. We are all a part of the problem and we need to join forces in pursuit of a solution. I know many people who have busy lives and it’s hard to talk about such difficult subjects for long stretches but please, please, please if you are tired of working this out remember the 49 dead people in Orlando.
So many people have to die in order for Canadians to wake up but this is the price of apathy. There’s also a secondary level of institutionalized discrimination on the part of Pride Toronto that needs to be addressed even before we tackle the issue with the cops. Dishearteningly many people in this city think it’s okay to discriminate one group over another as long as the group we’re repressing can be labeled a ‘terrorist’, ‘hate group’ or other such nonsense. We do need to safeguard again hate but that’s not what Pride Toronto has been tampering with. In 2010 Pride Toronto spent lots of money and resources trying to force the community to pre-approve all parade signs and banners before they set out to on a witch hunt to ban QuAIA. Last year they successfully banned the men’s group CAFE because they didn’t like their politics. Why is it that we allow Pride to decide what is okay and what is not? How about we get to make our own mistakes and if you don’t like a particular group shut up about it because you have not been appointed the morality squad. As long as you are taking cash from floats like Viagra and The Pickle Barrel you have no business telling others who they should be or what or how they can speak. Pride Toronto is publicly using words like ‘inclusiveness’ to defend the police being in the parade. It should never be up to Pride to decide who marches anyway and someone needs to call them out on this banning business because it’s only at the whim of the committee du jour.
Mathieu Chantelois, you have a wonderful opportunity to stand up and take our entire city into a whole new direction. One that is marked by leadership, innovative thinking and moral courage. Some of the major media outlets have already predicted or called for the resignation of the entire Pride staff but I would argue there’s a rainbow lining in this cloud, a catalyst to making serious change within our police system all while supporting those in our community who are the most vulnerable. Mathieu, some people may not like you if you listen to the needs of BLM but I and many others will back you up. Yes there are some good cops and some queer ones but can we stop focusing on the tiny bits of progress that we have made with them. Let’s stop pretending they lead us through a process of community reconciliation. Let’s remember that what little goodwill that exists is there becasue it came out of them harassing us on the streets, in our clubs, shops and even our homes. So we demanded action. We can congratulate the police for the progress, thank them for their dedication and then insist that we do some serious talking with our black and trans family. This is not a right/wrong paradigm, it’s shades of dirty grey that is getting more tainted the longer we turn our backs on taking action. If the Metropolitan Toronto Police were a business they would be sued into oblivion over just the last year’s worth of horrendous behaviour. Yes there are good cop stories but this is about the gestapo we have come to believe has been serving and protecting us. I was at the bathhouse raid ‘apology’ and anyone else who was there should be deeply offended by both the presentation of the circuit party style event to the delivery of the most insulting non-apology I have ever heard. Who are you people and why aren’t any LGBT cops standing up in disgust?
Mathieu please stand tall and support BLM, the police and the community in a long overdue dialogue. We need you to fight for us more than we need a parade that reinforces Pride Toronto’s irrelevance as a leadership organization.
You’re a fucking asshole. With that out of the way I can tell you what’s really going on for me. I am raging mad at you and my heart is literally melting in my chest because of what you did. It’s not the shooting which is so horrible but it’s the intention from which you carried it out.
I want to reverse this situation, to go back in time and smack your stupid face until it bleeds but I cannot do that. What’s most disturbing is that we’re going to see much more of this so while I hate your guts I have to believe that you represent the beginning of the end of the war to the queer communities fight for acceptance. You are nothing more than a historical pawn and while your deeds are unforgivable you give me strength and serve as a reminder for why being queer matters.
As gays fight for the rights to be just like everyone else, people in other parts of the world are being murdered. I do not want to be like everyone else, that’s not a good or bad thing it’s just that being queer provides me with a perspective worth sharing. And then there’s you, a shallow representation of homophobia and I say ’shallow’ because you put your opinion out there by force. You literally took away my brothers and sisters as a way of changing what you didn’t like. It’s tragic how your life must have spilled into such a dark and narrow world or maybe you were always like that and this is just the fruit of your life’s work. In any event I hate your fucking guts.
Historically, as one group gains power and mainstream acceptance the remaining opposition is forced to react, much like a rat trapped in a corner. I am so lucky to live in Toronto because it gives a platform where I can live openly and free from consequence and therefore I see it as my duty to be as visible as possible. The war for acceptance is far from over and as a community our strength is in our numbers. I’m using this horrific tragedy to remind myself that while the battle for acceptance may feel like it’s already been won, it’s far from over.
This is Pride month in Toronto and the most honouring thing we can do for the people of Orlando is live loud, proud and be unapologetically queer.
My heart’s broken. I am a card-carrying homosexual who wears his politics on his sleeve. I do this out of respect to the queers before me who stood up to injustice, fought back and won. These are the people of moral courage and they are responsible for much of the freedoms we enjoy today.
How dare you use oppressive tactics against your own community. Pride Toronto’s dispute resolution process (DRP) has created a high state of anxiety and fear for me. As an active member and advocate with Toronto’s queer community I am concerned about who is going to be banned next.
The thing about free speech and human rights is that you can’t pick and choose who gets it. Pride Toronto is now in the practice of exclusion which is contrary to your stated values and endangering the lives of the community in which you are to serve.
Pride Toronto is not welcome at my march on Sunday June 28, 2015 as your organization fosters a culture of fear by promoting exclusion. Toronto deserves bold and boundary-pushing leadership, I’m confident you can do better.
“Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities” –Ayn Rand
“I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.” –Oscar Wilde
Pink balaclava: Raymond Helkio
In June 2014, over 500 activists, academics, lawyers and policymakers from across Canada and around the world came together in Toronto, Ontario for the WorldPride Human Rights Conference which raised the level of awareness of global LGBTI issues in Toronto and Canada and provided a launch pad for the Dignity Initiative.
There is currently no framework or best practice guidelines for LGBTI and allied groups across Canada for working on global LGBTI issues. Our goal is to convene around the development of a set of policy pieces that would be practical tools for the Canadian government and Canadian civil society organizations. This project builds upon the 10-point plan of action on human rights for LGBTI people presented to the federal government in May 2014 by over 80 civil society organizations. Join us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all the developments. Logo, graphic design and website: Raymond Helkio.
THURSDAY MAY 14, 2015
Reception & Discussion for International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia
The Dignity Initiative hosts a reception and interactive discussion on how Canadians are becoming more involved in supporting human rights for LGBTI people around the world. This reception is co-hosted by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and The Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto.
5:00pm-6:00pm Reception (light refreshments and cash bar)
6:00pm-7:30pm Panel Discussion and Conversation
Adedapo Fabunmi, APAA (Africans in Partnership Against AIDS), Initiative for Equal Rights, Nigeria
Maurice Tomlinson, LGBTI Aware Caribbean & Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Vijaya Chikermane, Alliance for South Asian Aids Prevention
Michelle Emson, KyivPride Canada
Moderator: Doug Kerr, Dignity Initiative
The panel will discuss ways that Canadians are working on human rights for LGBTI people in several regions and countries of the world, including the Caribbean, India, Nigeria, and Ukraine.
Join this Facebook event page for more information.
PrEP or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis is the use of anti-HIV medication (a blue pill by Gilead Sciences called Truvada) which keeps HIV negative people from becoming infected.
This is not a smart strategy for STD prevention because it’s is only effective against HIV and so while our community watches HIV rates decline, we are now facing soaring rates of Syphilis and other STDs. Is this trade-off really worth it? Taking PrEP to avoid HIV is like holding up an umbrella to the rain while facing oncoming traffic. Yes, you’ll stay dry.
If you use PrEP instead of a condom you risk other, potentially more serious diseases like Syphilis, Hepatitis A, B and C, HPV, Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea. This partial list should scare you because many of these diseases still hold the potential to shorten or your life. Is taking PrEP the responsible choice or is it just a game of “see no evil, hear no evil” for the lazy gay man. Consider that getting an STD is not about you, but about the other people YOU might infect. If you are not going to use a condom, get your ass to the doctor after unprotected sex. It’s not about what you have, it’s about what you aren’t going to pass on.
Today, the vast majority of people living with HIV respond well to treatment, most living a relatively normal life. Many will even live longer then our HIV-negative counterparts because HIV requires blood-work every six months and so the constant doctors visits means problems are uncovered before they become a problem. Perhaps it’s time to rethink our fear of HIV.
There is nothing like solidarity to propel a movement forward, thank you Doug Kerr, Brenda Cossman and Kyle Kirkup for an awesome experience. Download the PDF with media links and video, graphic design, website and video Raymond Helkio.
Dr. Amanda Vincent: “The world needs more people committed to marine conservation. In an era marked by the exponential decline of coral reefs and other ecosystems, this is one of the foremost challenges we face, one that Project Seahorse is always trying to address through our work. The question is, how do you do it? How do you turn people into stewards of the marine environment?” Annual Report, Graphic Design: Raymond Helkio
Join us for a gay old time as we show our support for our LGBT Russian family. videofag, Toronto | February 1, 2014
In this video: andrea houston, roy mitchell, donnarama, brock hessel, david bateman, amy lester, elle chronique with video by raymond helkio ? music: the whole she bang, velvet goldmine + noctune opus 32, no 1, stewart borden
Innovative, African Solutions for Africa’s Health Problems “AMREF has shown that indigenous solutions based on international science can address the toughest problems in the world, and serve as a beacon for Africa and for the world.” Graphic Design: Raymond Helkio AMREF Case for Support (PDF)
Guest authoring for PositiveLite.com, Raymond Helkio says that despite Toronto’s awful mayor Rob Ford, the city now has a chance to redeem itself in the global LGBT rights dialogue that is WorldPride 2014.
How many saints, martyrs and human rights activists do we have locked up in Canada right now? More importantly how many of them would we even recognize as a martyr or saint? Think of Nelson Mandela, the revered President of South Africa who spent 27 years in prison. Being considered a criminal appears to be the price one pays for the rest of us to benefit at a later date – or does it have to be this way? Can we as citizens separate the politicians that demonstrate moral courage from those that just speak political rhetoric? Cities, towns and communities owe it to themselves to put thier most morally courageous people into the positions of power or risk progress altogether. Just look at Toronto who has made international headlines for its bumbling mayor, Rob Ford. But even having foolish mayor is has proven to be a bit of a gift for Toronto because it’s the best wake-up call a city could ask for. Canadian politics in general just haven’t been that interesting to the rest of the world and why should it be when we Canadians haven’t been that interested either, until now. Read the full article.
This is a chance for the LGBT community to come together to discuss the issues that matter to us and to further our human rights around the globe. Your support will help provide opportunities for important dialogue between grassroots leaders and contribute to this growing international movement.
We need your help to cover the costs of transportation and accommodation for the 175+ presenters that will be participating in the conference. Your support will help leading LGBT activists from countries including Uganda, Russia, Nigeria, Indonesia, India, China and many others attend the conference.
International LGBTI leaders will gather in Toronto for WorldPride 2014 for a dialogue about LGBTI rights as human rights around the world, and the issues affecting our communities. Enthusiasm for the Conference has been so great that submissions greatly exceeded organizers’ expectations, with more than 400 received from activists, academics and LGBTI leaders.
Hundreds of LGBTI rights leaders from around the world will speak, including: Russian activist and journalist Masha Gessen;Ugandan LBGTI activist Frank Mugisha; Kenyan human rights lawyer Justice Monica Mbaru; Venezuelan trans activist Tamara Adrián; and Canadian global HIV/AIDS leader Stephen Lewis. Panelists will address issues ranging from education and youth,HIV/AIDS, sex work, trans rights, employment, aging and other human rights issues. A full schedule for the conference will beannounced early in 2014 at WPHRC14.com
RISE UP! Calling all Toronto queer artists, activists, and superstars! We’re making a promotional video for The WorldPride Human Rights Conference 2014 and you can be a part of it! Tell us what global LGBT human rights mean to you and be part of history! Drop us an email or look for us at Toronto LGBT venues from throughout the summer.
More WPHRC videos here.
Moral courage is the willingness to stand up when others want you to sit down. It is living with integrity. Through this new channel, the Moral Courage Project will inspire people worldwide to question dogmas, speak taboo truths and create honest conversations. Behind these videos is multimedia producer Adam Grannick and if you haven’t heard of Adam yet, you are about to because he’s behind the cool graphics and video work. It’s going to be one hell of a season starting April 2013! Check out Moral Courage TV channel and don’t forget to subscribe.
To criticize Israel, Gaza or Palestinian is not the same as criticizing it’s people. A political system, or lack there of, is worthy of criticism if no other reason than it’s position of power. You see, the person in the position of power is the only one who can truly make peace last. It’s like an adult with a unruly child, the parent must set the example. Parents aren’t necessarily smarter either, they’re just in a position of power which is why they are parents.
Look, it’s shitty businesses that rockets have been flying out of Gaza and I feel for the terror that it is causing ordinary people. You gotta fight back and protect your peeps, isn’t that what Dali Lama would do? Well maybe not quite, he’d likely retaliate with some form of peaceful non-retaliation which would a beautiful thing to witness but I’m afraid a lot of people would end up dying. Could criticism, dialogue and debate achieve peace? It can when the political entities that control the war feel the public awareness and hear the demands for answers. Public interest, public pressure, debate and the free exchange of ideas are vital to keeping our politicians on their toes, otherwise who is keeping score? How do we know what’s the truth? The CBC and CNN combined couldn’t do a decent profile on the the Israel/Palestine conflict if they tried. Where are the discussions, the debate, the interest for our fellow humans? The curiosity about what is truth and what are we being told?
It’s a political game that has profound cultural ramifications for its citizens but I’m afraid it’s not the people in the places, it’s the people running the places. Leaders must take greater responsibility and the people must hold them to account. Over and over. And over. After all, the political leaders are the only ones that can really stop a war, start a war or put it on hold. Even if it’s just a 24 hour cease fire, if they can stop it for a little while they can stop it for a long while. It’s a choice and anyone who tells you that the situation with Israel and Palestine is complicated is referring to only to their understanding the situation. Peace is not complicated, history can be.
Israel has been saying that they want the bombs to stop. The leaders and public figures chat this mantra over and over on the news because it’s truth for all of us: we all want the bombs to stop. But what about the big pink elephant in the room? Hello Military Occupation Elephant we’ve all been wondering about you.
The right to self-determination is the right to govern one selves as they see fit but Israel has made it very hard, if not impossible, to do that.The wall Israel built and is still building acts as a deterrent to terrorists – especially the kind that blow up busses with women and children on board. The facts speak for themselves because once Israel started putting the wall up, the incidence of terror almost vanished. There is all kinds of crazy shit that the people of Israel need to be protected from ranging from the rational to the truly insane but protecting yourself should not infringe on the fundamental human rights of a fellow human being.
Who’s making more peace-centric requests? When Benjamin Netanyahu is asked direct questions about matters pertaining to peace he is rarely forthcoming with ideas outside of they have to stop throwing bombs. This seriously stunning PR line suddenly positions the entire battle as if it’s being waged over Hamas tossing bombs at them for some unknown reason. There’s no good reason the throw a bomb but the reasons are pretty integral to the storyline.
We know both sides are capable of peace because they can agree to some peace even if it’s in the middle of battle. This is not an issue of capacity, this an issue of willingness and intention. But it’s not enough to just stop throwing bombs.
Just like you can’t grow a garden on a sidewalk because you need rich fertile soil. No different than peace because if you want peace, you’ll need a rich playing field where no fighting exists in order for anything to grow. even if you set up a two state garden, we’ll need to tend to the soil first.
Public criticism and discourse can get us though this but we have to be willing to talk about it. There is no power in ignorance, so pick a side and know that you might be wrong. But please pick a side becasue people are dying.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” –Desmond TuTu
In an article titled Henry Comes Knocking: Video discloses absurdity of Court’s HIV non-disclosure rulings AIDS ACTION NOW gives a big thumbs up to The Reading Salon‘s efforts with this work. The criminalization of people living with HIV (or any illness) is an epically wrong way to manage a public health concern and is a slippery slope into the archaic world of disease management by law enforcement. Thanks AAN for adding your voices into the mix! Watch the video below.
What’s Moral Courage? Do I have it? Do you? Moral Courage is the willingness to speak truth to power and risk backlash for a greater good. And now there’s an App we’ve designed that guide you through your moral courage journey. Currently the App can support 17 languages and counting.
As Robert F. Kennedy told students at the University of Cape Town “Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet is it the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change.”
The Moral Courage Project (MCP) is lead by Professor Irshad Manji out of New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and through the MCP website which serves as a hub for students around the world.
If you have questions about MCP you can always send me an email and as one of the Canadian ambassadors for the project I can help you get involved or answer questions. Don’t forget to download the App (it’s free!) and look for my video question in the Ask Irshad section.
Please join me Thursday May 24th at 10PM (EST) on Blog Talk Radio with host Roy Mitchell for the show ROYNATION. We’ll be talking about The Great Meeting Room, Free Speech, Moral Courage, the Rob Ford: Prove It! campaign and Roy’s trending fashion. It’s going to be lively!
Blog Talk Radio is free and you can login with facebook to chat with us during the show!
Also on the show is Greg Youmans who wrote a book about the film as part of the QUEER FILM CLASSICS, a critically acclaimed film book series that launched in 2009; the series will cover twenty-one of the most important and influential films about and by LGBTQ people, made in eight different countries between 1950 and 2005, written by leading LGBTQ film scholars and critics. The series will unspool at the rate of three new titles each year until 2015.
A real story of a man wrongfully imprisoned and facing possible execution. This video by Hailey does a great job explaining a very unfortunate situation and through her Free Hamid campaign we hope to bring Hamid back to his family. You can help by watching and sharing this video with your friends and colleagues. Thank you for caring enough to watch.