This story is a part of our RBC Future Launch Community Challenge (RBC FLCC) series, showcasing how youth are giving back and inspiring change by leading projects to address their communities’ needs.
In Quesnel, British Columbia, youth leader Kassondra Schwab is using mural painting and rainbow cakes to create vibrant spaces for LGBTQ2S+ empowerment.
With the support of the RBC Future Launch Community Challenge, Community Foundations of Canada, the Quesnel Community Foundation and the City of Quesnel, youth leader Schwab is the driving force behind the LGBTQ+ [sic] Community Support project.
Welcome to “Our Space”
In January 2020, the LGBTQ+ Community Support project was in full swing. Schwab and their team had signed a lease for “Our Space” – a room to welcome anyone in the community but also a dedicated space to host specific programming for LGBTQ youth.
They filled the space with comfortable furniture and wall murals painted by local LGBTQ+ youth. A counsellor came in to host the Youth in Transition group, there were yoga sessions and art afternoons. It was a safe space where anyone was welcome to conversation and snacks.
The grand opening for Our Space was held on the weekend of March 13, 2020. Shortly after, the doors to Our Space had to close as Canadians were instructed to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19. And one week after the grand opening of Our Space, all in person programming in the community was put on hold.
“It has been challenging connecting with youth online, so we have hosted a couple of [the Youth in Transition] support groups with social distancing parameters and mandatory masks,” Schwab explained.
The annual Pride Parade also had to move online, and Quesnel community members were invited to join a Facebook live stream where a small number of Pride Society volunteers joined the Quesnel mayor, Bob Simpson, in raising the LGBTQ2+ flag in a local park.
The way back to Our Space and in-person programs are uncertain as the recovery path through a global pandemic is not linear. Schwab remains hopeful, noting that the response from the Quesnel community has been “nothing but love and support.”
“We are hoping to connect LGBTQ2S+ community members with one another and create a support system. We want every LGBTQ2S+ person to feel validated and cared for.”
The RBC FLCC is a collaboration between Community Foundations of Canada and community foundations from coast to coast to coast. The #RBCFLChallenge youth-led projects are supported by RBC Foundation’s contribution of $2.2 million.