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Letter to the Guelph Community

Dear reader,

We are queer and transgender members of the Guelph community who oppose Guelph Police Service’s (GPS) recently launched “Safe Place” program. This initiative is channeling city funds to develop a program that already exists within our community.

HIV/AIDS Resources and Community Health (ARCH) provides a fulsome training for businesses and individuals throughout Guelph who are interested in providing more inclusive and accessible services. This program, known as Voices of Value: LGBTQ+ Cultural Competency Toolkit, was developed in conjunction with our communities and includes in-service training provided by someone with lived/living experience. Here’s a summary of how this program works:

  • Participant organisations must complete training provided by ARCH.
  • After their training, they are then eligible to receive a sticker to advertise their commitment to providing LGBTQ+ friendly services.
  • ARCH maintains a list of all organisations that have committed to upholding the specific values outlined in the training.
  • ARCH provides support to the business to improve knowledge, awareness, and skills if any incidents of discrimination do come up afterwards.
  • ARCH also provides support for individuals who experience discrimination from these businesses.
  • If these businesses do not fulfill the requirements, their stickers are removed and they are excluded from the database of participating organisations.
  • This demonstrates the weight that ARCH places on the experiences of those within the queer and trans communities--they values our voices and listen to our feedback about customer experiences.

We are confident in ARCH’s ability to consistently offer services that are safer for us and our loved ones, and are appalled that GPS believes they can better meet this need by further policing our over-policed communities. We are fearful and enraged when faced with the impacts this “Safe Place” program would have on the most marginalized people in our community.

Guelph Police Service did not acknowledge Voices of Value, a program which already exists within our city, before deciding to develop their own initiative. GPS did not reach out to ARCH. The GPS program provides a sticker without any qualifying training, without any input from our community, and without followup to maintain the commitment to the community. It is a sticker and a commitment without meaning or teeth.

GPS reached out, once via email to a single LGBTQ2IA+ organisation in this city, Guelph Pride and its parent organisation, Out On The Shelf (OOTS), to initiate a working relationship without any follow-up. The Guelph Police Service LGBTQIA2S+ liaison asked numerous questions of Guelph Pride/OOTS that showed little to no critical thinking of effort on their end with the expectation for our volunteers to do their homework for them. GPS also failed to disclose their intent to create this “Safe Place'' program. Guelph Pride/OOTS let the liaison know that Guelph Police Services would need to meet the demands required by Black Lives Matter (BLM) in order for the organizations to feel safe engaging with GPS.

Community organizations and groups in Guelph have been working to decrease police presence in our communities, as evidenced by the protests this past summer and the ongoing discussion about removing police presence in schools by the Upper Grand District School Board. We too call for the redirection of funds from police services to community organisations and services that can better meet the needs of our people. Especially in these times of COVID-19, our front-line workers in our city, many who are part of queer and trans communities themselves, are doing work while underfunded and under-recognized, evidenced by the City of Guelph’s poor allocation of resources.

Guelph Pride/OOTS clearly articulated what the Police Service needed to do in order to begin decreasing the harm it does to our communities. Guelph Police Service refused to follow through. We reject the “Safe Place” program and Guelph Police Service’s abysmal attempts at showing queer and trans communities that we “can trust the police.”

In solidarity,

Concerned LGBTQ+ citizens and their allies



Signed by

To add your name as an individual or organization in support of the letter above, please sign this form.

Board of Directors, Out on the Shelf

Guelph Pride Committee, Guelph Pride

Guelph Queer Equality

Kinnery Chaparrel, Disability Education Empowerment and Pride (DEEP)

Board of Directors, Royal City Roller Derby

Board of Directors, HIV/AIDS Resources and Community Health (ARCH)

Jake Somerville, Bodh Salon & Photography

Jesse Tetrault, Bent Bar Fitness

Scarlett Raczycki, Silence

Cameron Grant

Amber Sherwood-Robinson

Elise Gordezky

Kel Martin

Bella Harris

Ania Mallard

Desmond Amy

Xicotencatl Lopez

Isabella Garofalo

Cait Flynn

Jasmine Sepers

Danz Altvater

Joy Steele

Alexandra Bogoslowski

Michelle Tang

Gary Tang

Karen DelVecchio

Olivia Markle

Alainna Smith

Ruth Cortis

Brittany Lee

Kayla Besse

Amy Vandenberg

Jaye Crawford

Hillary Gentle

Marissa Hunt

Kent Spence

Lori Hicks

Dorian Hallman

Liz Timmers

Kristen Flynn

Aelwyn McShane

Leah Sadler

Hazel Wheeler

Elizabeth Cyr

David Baxter

Christine Dulal-Whiteway

Patrick Kloeze

Hilda Smith

Skylar Sookpaiboon

Leslie Dema

Katherine MacGregor

Drew Virgin

Emma Kelly

Kate Howells

Griffin Heaney

Nicola Gallagher

Nicola Parkinson

Meghan Gillard

Gale Gamboa

Sue Strobli

Christine Bending

Andreas Boecker

Kelly Timbers

Joshua Mitchell

Emma Eckerich

Emma Howarth - Withers

Kristopher Mielke

Jamie Jeremiah

Dana Suvagau

Kayla Krische

Caelan Digby

Lori Hicks

Kate Burgess

Peter Flannery

ben grossman

Britney De Costa

Katrina StephanyLGBTQ2+ Health Research Coordinator, CBRC

Alisa McRonald

Michelle Somerville

Jenny Mitchell

Celidh Barker

Natasha Pravaz, Wilfrid Laurier University

Sherry Hood

Emily Hood

Margaret Hood

Gracy Go

Nungonse Keeshig-Tobias

Alexa Avelar

Tasha Falconer, MSc

Ilanna Tamari

Val MacLean

Zachariah Telfer

Steph Vecchio

Mel Soares

Cameron Wheaton

Melanie Cassidy, University of Guelph

Amanda Griffin Dunn

Nathan Dunn

Craig Tucker

Michelle Hartai

Natasha Benko

Jacob Barrick

Fawkes Conibear

Morgan Coffey

Catherine Dieleman

Jessica McCuaig, University of Guelph

Mary Heyens

Out On The Shelf Inc.

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Out On The Shelf is an inclusive LGBTQ2IA+ library and resource centre. We strive to provide a safe space for all members of the queer and trans communities and their allies.

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