White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin cuts a rainbow-coloured ribbon at the official unveiling of White Rock’s rainbow crosswalk in the Five Corners neighbourhood. Adding symbols of inclusion like this to Delta’s urban landscape is just the first step in supporting the community’s LGBTQ population, says Sher Vancouver founder Alex Sangha. (Bob Bezubiak/Twitter photo)

White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin cuts a rainbow-coloured ribbon at the official unveiling of White Rock’s rainbow crosswalk in the Five Corners neighbourhood. Adding symbols of inclusion like this to Delta’s urban landscape is just the first step in supporting the community’s LGBTQ population, says Sher Vancouver founder Alex Sangha. (Bob Bezubiak/Twitter photo)

Delta to address inclusion and services for LGBTQ community

LGBTQ advocate’s proposed initiatives referred to city’s new liveability committee

City council will further explore how Delta can support the inclusion of its LGBTQ community with the help of its new liveability committee.

At last week’s council meeting on Monday, Feb. 11, Mayor George Harvie referred a letter by Alex Sangha, founder of Sher Vancouver LGBTQ Friends Society, to the city’s new community liveability advisory committee. In his letter, Sangha suggested a number of initiatives the city can undertake to show its inclusiveness for the LGBTQ community and to celebrate diversity in Delta.

Though the committee has yet to be staffed, Harvie tasked it with coming back with recommendations based on the suggestions in Sangha’s letter, which include painting rainbow crosswalks and park benches, flying pride flags from street lights, and creating a strategic plan to support LGBTQ people in Delta.

At the moment, Delta has no services specifically geared for that community, something the city hopes will change by the summer following the liveability committee’s first meetings.

In an interview with the Reporter last month, Sangha said he wants to work together with the city and give them ideas on programs, services and supports he sees as necessary for the LGBTQ community in Delta. As a start and token of good faith, he would like to see rainbow crosswalks on 112th Street and 84th Avenue, which he calls the “heart of North Delta.”

“To me, it’s more than just painting a road. To me it means that the city values inclusiveness, it values diversity,” Sangha said. “This sends a message to the queer population of Delta … that they are also welcome, included and embraced in the city. I think it’s very important when you have a group that’s very vulnerable and very marginalized to feel that way.”

Alex Sangha, left, with friend January Marie Lapuz in an undated photo. Sangha has produced a short documentary film about Lapuz, who was killed in 2012 at her New Westminster home. (Submitted photo)

He wants the city to follow that up with a strategy to include the LGBTQ community in its future operational plans because, he said, oftentimes transgender, gay and lesbian people from Delta have to go to Vancouver to get the services they need. He added the city can work together with other levels of government to create and fund said services.

“There’s really not much programming from any level of government, not just the city,” he said. “Fraser Health could do something, [but also] the federal government can create programs. There’s only so much that grassroots organization like ourselves can do.”

Sangha was inspired to pen letter his letter after reaching out to the city to find funding for the documentary My Name Was January. The film, which is making the rounds of the festival circuit, eulogizes 26-year-old trans woman January Marie Lapuz, who was stabbed to death at her home in New Westminster in September of 2012.

RELATED: Surrey-raised murder victim remembered in new documentary film

SEE ALSO: Free screening of ‘January’ doc movie about Surrey murder victim

After learning that Delta has no programs to financially support the arts, Sangha secured funding from the City of Surrey and the City of New Westminster, among other sponsors.

“How many applications for funding from a queer organization has the City of Delta gotten in the last hundred years of its existence? I would be surprised if it was a handful,” he said, adding that he’s not upset and that it’s simply the current situation in the city.

“We managed to get the money from other places and I am willing to work together with the city to show [the documentary] to the community and find different ways to support the community.”

Ken Kuntz, Delta’s director of parks, recreation and culture, told the Reporter in an emailed statement that the city has “no direct program of grants for arts.” The city does, however, provide spaces for local arts organizations at little cost.

Beyond that, Sangha would like for the Delta school board to collaborate with the city to provide direct funding and support for gay-straight alliances in secondary schools.

“People might say, why should we single out that group and support them and not others?” Sangha went on. “The reason is, queer youth are very much at risk of substance use, of depression, suicide, anxiety, being bullied — basically having a hard time coming out. ”

Sangha, who works as a counselor in North Delta, also wants the city to utilize its seniors services infrastructure to implement programs for LGBTQ seniors.

“A lot of seniors are isolated, they’re lonely and they’re depressed,” he said. “Alienation and isolation is a problem for all seniors, and if you belong to a queer group within that, it’s an intersectional effect.”

Kutrina Mosch, one of the organizers of last summer’s inaugural Delta Pride Picnic, told the Reporter service needs vary from person to person, and though she can’t speak for everyone in Delta, she thinks there is definitely a need for support service for LGBTQ youth.

RELATED: Delta celebrates pride with inaugural picnic

“I’d like to see drop-in counselling [and] a non-judgmental support group where youth can get together,” Mosch said. “I’d like to see some LGBTQ-specific sex ed resources put in because currently in the school system, it’s still heteronormal.”

(from left) Simran Walia, Kutrina Mosch, John Darras and Lydia Elder coordinated last summer inaugural Delta Pride Picnic. (Sandy Drover photo)

She also wants to see more support available locally. Currently, the only support group in the Lower Mainland for her 10-year-old son to attend is in Surrey’s Newton neighbourhood, and at “a not very good time at night.”

“Especially for LGBTQ people, they may not have access to cars or be able to take transit for long periods of time,” she said.

Mosch also pointed to a need for health-care services, specifically for referrals to available physicians, as well as counsellors and endocrinologists.

“I also know that a lot of LGBTQ youth don’t feel comfortable talking to their family doctors — if they have a family doctor because we have such a shortage out here — [about] getting tested for [sexually transmitted diseases] or talking about their sex life and learning how to protect themselves,” Mosch added.

The roster for Delta’s community liveability advisory committee will be finalized in March and is scheduled to meet 12 times throughout the year. It’s too soon to known when it will address Sangha’s recommendations.

— with files from Melissa Shaw and Tom Zillich



sasha.lakic@northdeltareporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Through his lens, Doug Cook captured this picture of the Fraser River, Mount Baker, an eagle, and even the Golden Ears Bridge on a sunny fall afternoon. The photo was taken from the wooden walkway leading down to the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport float plane dock. (Contributed photo)
Friends of Semiahmoo Bay to host virtual World Wetland Day event

Webinar event to feature six speakers, to be held Feb. 2

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey city councillors complain not enough public input in committees

City has gone ‘exactly the opposite direction,’ Councillor Brenda Locke charges

One of the Choices Lottery grand prize packages includes a home located at 16730 19 Ave., Surrey. (Contributed photo)
Two South Surrey homes featured in Choices Lottery

Tickets on sale now for BC Children’s Hospital lottery

Pindie Dhaliwal, one of the organizers for the Surrey Challo protest for Indian farmers. She says organizers were told by Surrey RCMP that the event was not allowed due to COVID-19. Organizers ended up moving the protest to Strawberry Hill at the last minute. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Indian farmers rally moves as organizers say Surrey RCMP told them they couldn’t gather

Protest originally planned in Cloverdale, moved to Strawberry Hill

Fraser Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at a Surrey high-intensity rehabilitation unit, Laurel Place. On Dec. 22, 2020, Fraser Health said four patients and two staff members have tested positive for the virus. (Image: Google Street View)
Fraser Health says COVID-19 outbreak over at Laurel Place in Surrey

Health authority declared outbreak over Jan. 16

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

sdf
Another Mission student arrested for assault, in 2nd case of in-school violence this week

RCMP notified of local Instagram page with videos (now deleted) showing student assaults, bullying

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Most Read