News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

May 23, 2023

Manitoba Government's Gender Equity Manitoba Secretariat Will Co-ordinate Whole-of-Government Work on 2SLGBTQQIA+ Issues

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First Gender Equity Manitoba Grant will be Awarded to Pride Winnipeg to Support Permanent Staffing, Expand Pride Activities across Province

In order to provide better co-ordinated services and support to the gender, sexual and relationship diverse community, the Manitoba government will be creating a new Gender Equity Manitoba (GEM) Secretariat, Premier Heather Stefanson and Families Minister Rochelle Squires, minister responsible for gender equity, announced today.

“We recognize that there is an increasing need to provide community-specific services to the 2SLGBTQQIA+ population. This expanded secretariat will have the financial and human resources necessary to ensure there is cross-departmental co-ordination of services to better support the needs of the gender, sexual and relationship diverse community,” said Stefanson.

The new GEM Secretariat, will see the Manitoba Status of Women Secretariat’s mandate expanded with a broader focus and increased budget to co-ordinate cross-departmental work on 2SLGBTQQIA+ issues and support the community with a new granting program.

With an expanded mandate and broader gender equity focus, GEM will be better positioned to respond effectively to issues involving gender and sexual diversity, and will align with an emerging trend in other federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions which have changed their mandates from a ‘women’s equity’ focus to a broader 'gender equity’ focus, the premier added.

“I am honoured to transition to my new role as minister responsible for gender equity and ensure there is a coherent cross-departmental strategy for responding to 2SLGBTQQIA+ issues. I look forward to building strong, collaborative relationships with community organizations supporting gender equity across Manitoba,” said Squires. “Our government has made progress, and our work continues to advance the rights and freedoms for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities so that Manitoba can be a place where people are truly free to be who they are. But we also know that 2SLGBTQQIA+ people and families continue to face discrimination, harassment and outright violence in our province, and until that changes, our work is not complete.”

The premier noted the expanded GEM Secretariat aligns with key priorities and recommendations of Manitoba’s Framework: Addressing Gender-based Violence and Reclaiming Power and Peace: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

GEM will also manage a new grant program that provides funding for activities that support the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community including events, funding initiatives, awareness campaigns and research projects, noted Squires.

“Pride Winnipeg is an incredibly important event that celebrates, acknowledges and amplifies the need for equity in the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community,” said Squires. “As the annual festival is taking place over the next week, I am proud to be able to announce they are the first recipient of this new grant.”

The organization is receiving $250,000 in dedicated annual support from GEM to allow it to establish permanent staffing of an executive director and executive assistant, which will support and expand Pride activities across Manitoba.

“After 36 years, it is truly amazing to finally have core funding in place for not only Pride Winnipeg's future, but for a future for the growing numbers of prides in our province. We have been working towards this goal for over three decades,” said Barry Karlenzig, president, Pride Winnipeg. “This announcement today signifies the importance of prides around the province and the crucial funding they require to provide safe spaces for our 2SLGBTTQIA community.”

Pride Winnipeg sees over 80,000 in attendance annually and has a significant economic impact to Winnipeg’s downtown. The grant from GEM will allow Pride Winnipeg to support the important work being done in other communities across Manitoba.

“Being 2STLGBQIANB+ in small-town Manitoba can be very isolating and lonely. Pride organizations in these communities are immensely important in supporting and helping members of the Rainbow Community connect with one another. In the same way, Pride organizations in small communities can be very isolated. Predictable, stable funding of Pride organizations by the Manitoba government will enable these organizations to connect and thereby support one another in their work on behalf of 2STLGBQIANB+ people in Manitoba,” said Peter Wohlgemut, president, Pembina Valley Pride. “Many of our organizations are relatively young and are staffed by volunteers. This funding will allow us to share resources, expertise, and to support one another, which is what a Pride organization is all about.”

A Pride flag-raising ceremony will take place on May 26 at Memorial Park. The Legislative Building will also be lit with a rainbow from May 31 to June 4 to mark Pride week.

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