Introducing Our New Executive Director

We are pleased to introduce our new Executive Director, Scott Williams. Many people will know Scott as the project coordinator of our 2021 capacity-building project but his history with SPECTRUM goes back to 2013 when he volunteered as our librarian. In 2014-2015 Scott served as our Board Secretary, and he continued as a volunteer through 2018, especially assisting with our charitable status and fundraising efforts.

Prior to 2021, Scott served as Communications and Development Coordinator at KW Counselling Services where he was part of the OK2BME team for several years. In 2015, Scott began the GivingTuesday Waterloo Region movement which he chaired through 2017. Scott volunteers with the United Way Waterloo Region Communities Community Investments Team, and the Grand River Film Festival’s selection committee. Previously, he has volunteered on the City of Kitchener Mayor’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, the Waterloo Region Mental Wellness Network, and the Children and Youth Planning Table Communications Advisory Team.

Scott holds a BA in English Language and Literature from Wilfrid Laurier University, and a diploma in Film Production from Vancouver Film School. He is a graduate of the Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation’s Engage!KW program. At WLU, Scott served as Co-President of GLOBAL (Gay, Lesbian, Or Bisexual, At Laurier), the precursor to the Rainbow Centre. He was part of the volunteer committee who organized the first Pride Prom in Waterloo Region in 2003. Scott wrote the Love My Hood grant application that resulted in the 2018 installation of the rainbow crosswalk in Kitchener.
Connect with Scott at scott@ourspectrum.com

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Year-end giving: donations needed for Chrysalis Fund

The end of the year is approaching, and with it the last chance for year-end charitable giving. SPECTRUM is in need of donations to support our Chrysalis Fund for Mental Health, which helps to provide no cost and subsidized counselling to members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, with a focus on transgender and non-binary people. 

This service is badly needed in our community; stigma, violence, and discrimination mean that 2SLGBTQ+ people are at elevated risk for serious mental illness, addiction, and suicide:

Transgender and non-binary people experience even higher levels of risk because of lack of community support and rejection by friends, family, and loved ones:

  • Per the Outlook Study, less than half (43%) of trans people in Waterloo Region have come out to people outside of their immediate family. Nearly a third of those who have (31%) say that the people they came out to are unsupportive.
  • In one Waterloo Region study, 42% of trans respondents reported having to move away from family or friends because of their gender identity. 
  • Of the 40,000 homeless youth in Canada, between 25% and 40% identify as 2SLGBTQ+. Family conflict relating to sexual orientation or gender identity is the main reason 2SLGBTQ+ youth become homeless.

In addition to there being a lack of mental health professionals qualified to provide trans and non-binary inclusive care, many trans and non-binary people who experience employment discrimination or economic marginalization are unable to afford counselling services, which are expensive and not always covered by benefits. 

Of especial concern is that trans and non-binary people have disproportionately suffered negative economic impacts of COVID 19 while also experiencing much higher rates of depression and mental illness:

  • According to Statistics Canada, almost 70% of gender-diverse participants reported fair/poor mental health, compared with 25.5% of female participants and 21.2% of male participants. Gender-diverse people were 2 times more likely than women to report symptoms of anxiety, and 3 times more likely than men. 
  • Gender-diverse respondents were 1.6 times more likely to report that COVID-19 had a “moderate”or “major” impact on their ability to meet their financial obligations or essential needs, such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, and groceries. 
  • According to a 2018 survey, the age and gender distribution of the 2SLGBTQ+ population in Canada was also associated with higher risk for experiencing loss of employment.
  • 2SLGBTQ+ Canadians are also significantly over-represented among low-income earners.

Your donations are needed to continue providing access to this vital service for those most in need. We urge you to give directly to the Chrysalis Fund for mental health as part of your year-end giving. Monies from the Chrysalis Fund will be used to provide counselling services through the OK2BME program at KW Counselling Services. $130 will cover the full cost of a counselling session for someone in need. We thank you for prioritizing 2SLGBTQ+ mental health in your year-end giving!

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Events, SPECTRUM News

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2021

Every year on November 20th, we observe the Transgender Day of Remembrance to remember the transgender people we have lost to violence in the past year.

This year, the Glow Centre and SPECTRUM are partnering with ACCKWA and SHORE Centre on a virtual vigil event for the Transgender Day of Remembrance on Saturday November 20, 2021 at 3pm. From 3-4pm we will hear from speakers, and from 4-5pm there will be a facilitated healing circle.

Click here to register for the event.

(A small number of students will be able to attend in-person on the U Waterloo campus, other community members will be able to attend virtually)

The event will be hosted by Sam Faulkner. Our speakers will be Dewe’igan Bearfoot, Cait Glasson, TK Pritchard, and Teneile Warren. The healing circle will be facilitated by Mandi Cowan and Washington Silk.

Dewe’igan Bearfoot (she/they)

Dewe’igan Bearfoot is a two-spirit transfemme Anishnaabe woman hailing from Spry Lake Ontario. They came out as Bisexual at the age of 16 and then came out as Trans between the ages of 19 and 20. Since then they’ve become an advocate for Mental Health Awareness, 2S and LGBTQA+ Rights and Land Back.

Sam Faulkner (they/them) 

Sam is a design student interested in advocacy work and community event planning as well as user experience research and hearing health. They have participated on numerous committees that focus on improving transition related health care and LGBTQ+ sports inclusion including co-founding Ottawa-based trans youth group, SAEFTY. In their free time, they enjoy crocheting and writing articles for their university’s student government.  

Cait Glasson (she/her) 

Cait is a lesbian who came out as such 29 years ago, and at 55 is a mother, grandmother, activist, educator, and, incidentally, trans. Cait is the former President of the Board of Directors of SPECTRUM, Waterloo Region’s Rainbow Community Space. 

TK Pritchard (they/he) 

TK is the Executive Director for SHORE Centre, a reproductive rights and sexual health non-profit. TK has previously worked as the Public Education Manager for the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region, a Sexual Health Educator,  and as a facilitator for OK2BME running social support groups for queer youth. 

Teneile Warren (they/them) 

Teneile Warren is a Black, Nonbinary, and Queer identifying Racial Equity and Anti-Oppression Educator based in Kitchener, Ontario. Through their professional practice, they consult with public and private institutions on addressing racial equity, gender equity, creating anti-oppressive spaces, and guiding organizational equity change initiatives.  They are the co-founder of insideWaterloo and the Equity and Inclusion Officer at the Waterloo Region District School Board. 

Washington Silk (they/them) 

Washington Silk is a Registered Social Worker. They hold a BA in Anthropology from the University of Lethbridge (2010) and a Master of Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University (2013). Wash is a passionate transgender and queer social worker with over 10 years of clinical and community experience. They are a white settler from Alberta. They have lived experience of ADHD, learning disabilities and mental health struggles and recovery. 

Mandi Cowan (they/she) 

Mandi Cowan is the co-owner of Cultivate Counselling. They graduated with a Master of Social Work from Carleton University in 2014 and have worked in the KW area ever since. As an experienced therapist, and also someone who has accessed mental health services, Mandi believes in the importance of finding a counselling space that values you as a unique and complex person or couple, and can adapt to meet your needs and goals. 

Below are local resources for transgender people, and those looking to learn more about trans and gender-diverse people here in Waterloo Region.

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We’re looking for local 2SLGBTQ+ people to write guest blogs for SPECTRUM!

SPECTRUM is looking for local 2SLGBTQ+ people to write guest blog posts, to be published on our website in 2022, as part of our continuing efforts to raise awareness of 2SLGBTQ+ people and experiences in Waterloo Region.

Guest bloggers will be paid an honorarium of .30 cents per word for posts of up to 500 words. Guest bloggers will retain ownership of their work; the honorarium is to purchase indefinite rights for SPECTRUM to use the work.

What we’re looking for:

  • Length: 300-500 words
  • Topic: either a personal story or experience or a specific 2SLGBTQ+ issue in our community
  • Completion date: blog posts to be completed no later than December 18th.

SPECTRUM would especially like to hear from Black, Indigenous, and other QTPOC members of our community.

Interested? Submit a pitch for a column topic here! Pitches must be received no later than November 14th to be considered.

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SPECTRUM Trans and Gender Diverse Mental Health, Wellness and Suicide Prevention Toolkit

Thanks to a generous grant from the Canadian Women’s Foundation, SPECTRUM was able to partner with Wisdom2Action to develop a Trans and Gender Diverse Mental Health, Wellness and Suicide Prevention Toolkit.

In our grant application we noted that, based on the Trans PULSE Study and the local OutLook Study, as well as anecdotal information from our drop-in groups, there was evidence that pre-COVID a large portion of transgender identifying folks in Waterloo Region had not come out of the closet or found that many people in their life were un-supportive or worse, abusive. This in turn subjected these folks to high levels of mental health stress. We recognized that this situation was being aggravated by the isolation due to the COVID-19 public health emergency and the resulting close contact of individuals in un-supportive or abusive environments where they had become a captive audience.

This was the genesis for our project application for which we had two primary objectives:

First, we wanted to develop, publish, and analyse an anonymous community survey asking, among many other things, how COVID-19 isolation was affecting local transgender and non-binary people’s mental and physical health. From this group of respondents, we also wanted to interview a select few to do a deeper dive on mental health challenges. In addition, the Wisdom2Action team conducted an in-depth literature review. The information collected was used to shape the toolkit.

The second part of this project was to develop a toolkit focused on mental health promotion and suicide prevention to be used by transgender identifying folks (people in crisis), and mental health and medical health professionals and transgender allies (people who support those in crisis). We felt such information organized into a toolkit would be very useful to the community during and after the public health emergency.

On September 28, 2021, we held a community forum to share details about the information we gathered and the process of designing the toolkit. You can watch a recording of this session here.

The toolkit is now being printed and we will send physical copies to all local schools, hospitals, community counselling agencies, family health teams, and many social service agencies. A digital version of the toolkit is available to everyone for download here.

SPECTRUM would like to thank the Wisdom2Action team for their hard work in bringing this valuable toolkit to life in a very short space of time. We are also extremely grateful to the Canadian Women’s Foundation for recognizing the importance of this work and making it possible.

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Introducing the New Rainbow Pages!

SPECTRUM frequently receives requests for information about 2SLGBTQ+-friendly or owned businesses. It’s been some years now since we last published an edition of the Rainbow Pages directory but we are pleased to announce a new edition is available for Fall 2021!

This project was managed by our former Acting Executive Director, Kristy Skelton, and a student intern, Mimika Ahmed Hazra. We are deeply grateful to:

  • United Way Waterloo Region Communities for connecting us with Mimika, without whom this project would not have been possible.
  • All those organizations and individuals who purchased advertising space in the directory.
  • Finally, a special thanks to our interview subjects for sharing their time and expertise with us: Fran Pappert, Kelsi Seifert, Tony Van Giessen, and Washington Silk.

A digital version of the new directory is available for download here. Additionally, a limited number of printed copies are being distributed to various locations throughout the community.

The Rainbow Pages is just one of three resource directories that SPECTRUM has developed. SPECTRUM’s other online resource directories include:

  • TransNAV GPS: an online directory of service providers who are trans-friendly and who are experienced in providing services to local transgender folks.
  • SPECTRUM’s map of gender neutral washrooms across our community. We always welcome feedback and suggestions for new entries. You can send us a message using the form at the bottom of our Contact page.

You can find them all on our Resource Directory page.

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Events, SPECTRUM News

Join Us At SPECTRUM’s 2021 Annual General Meeting

Our Annual General Meeting is coming on October 5, 2021.

You are a voting member of SPECTRUM if you have made a financial contribution or volunteered 30 hours in the last 12 months. Click here to make a donation today and renew your membership!

Our AGM is an essential part of SPECTRUM’s operations, and our ByLaws require that a certain portion of our membership attend. During the meeting, you will hear a summary of SPECTRUM’s past year, and will vote on our Board of Directors for 2021-2022. 

Please demonstrate your support for the work SPECTRUM does, and join us! Click here to register to attend.

This is a public call for nominations for the Board of Directors. If you are interested in becoming a board member, complete our Board Application Form and send it with your resume to info@ourspectrum.com. We will then follow up with you to schedule a meeting with the nomination committee. 

If you have any questions about the duties of a board member position, please visit our Board of Directors page.

Note: all nominations must be received by Sunday September 12th at 5pm. All nominations must be a member in good standing, or willing to become a member prior to the AGM. No nominations from the floor will be accepted during the AGM. 

Find the AGM agenda and other materials here.

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Grant enables SPECTRUM to launch new free social groups for 2SLGBTQ+ adults!

Thanks to a grant from the Kitchener Waterloo Community Fund and the Uvaro Community Fund, SPECTRUM is proud to be able to present a series of new social groups for 2SLGBTQ+ adults at no cost to participants!

Earlier this year, we conducted a series of surveys to learn more about what people like about our programs and services, and where people felt there were gaps. The feedback we received helped us hone in on a few key areas for new programming. These new groups will be run as pilots for one year. During that time, we’ll collect feedback from the participants to help us decide whether we should continue to run them going forward.

2SLGBTQ+ Book Club:

2SLGBTQ+ Book Club Banner with SPECTRUM and WPL logos

In partnership with Waterloo Public Library, the 2SLGBTQ+ Book Club will give participants the opportunity to discuss books by 2SLGBTQ+ authors, or books that explore 2SLGBTQ+ experiences. We will usually meet on the last Monday of each month at 7pm at the Main Library (35 Albert St, Waterloo, ON N2L 5E2). We have pre-selected books for the first four months but will be accepting suggestions for future titles from participants.

The first four books:

  • September 27, 2021 – Love Lives Here: A Story of Thriving in a Transgender Family by Amanda Jette Knox
  • October 25, 2021 – This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
  • November 29, 2021 – I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya
  • December 20, 2021 – Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

In order to ensure compliance with COVID protocols participants will need to register in advance to attend. You will be able to do this soon at the WPL website. Watch our social media for updates.

For those who prefer virtual discussions you can join our group on Goodreads.

2SLGBTQ+ Yoga:

2SLGBT+ Yoga banner with SPECTRUM and Branches Yoga logo

In partnership with The Branches Yoga, the free 2SLGBTQ+ Yoga Group will meet once per month (on the second or third Sunday depending upon holidays) at The Branches studio. For the first session on September 12th at 7:30pm, participants will gather on the peaceful outdoor deck for a beginner’s level yoga experience with instructor Angela. No previous yoga experience is required and this is a space for EVERY body. This is an exclusive space for 2SLGBTQ+-identified people and trans and non-binary folks are especially encouraged to join us. 

The Branches Yoga is located close to downtown Kitchener at 9 Samuel St, Kitchener, ON N2H 1N9, one block from the intersection of Frederick and Lancaster.

(Please note that the space is not yet wheelchair accessible, though there are plans to install a ramp to the front door. The main floor practice space is five steps up from street level. We apologize for this lack of accessibility.)

In order to ensure compliance with COVID protocols participants will need to register in advance to attend. You will be able to do this soon at https://thebranchesyoga.com. Watch our social media for updates.

Mindful Movement Group:

Mindful Movement Group banner with SPECTRUM logo

This free group will meet once per month. Participants will explore self-care and connection to community through movement with facilitator, Joscelyn Guindon RDMT (qualifying) MSW RSW. 

This group will explore movement and dance, and how we can connect with others and with ourselves in an open and meaningful way. Participants will use movement and dance to support being present and exploring new ways to move more freely, while also focusing on having fun and enjoying dance together. This group is for EVERY body. It is trans and non-binary affirming. There is no technique or dance experience needed.

In order to ensure compliance with COVID protocols participants will need to register in advance to attend. You will be able to do this soon on our website. Watch our social media for updates.

Queer Craft Circle:

Banner for Queer Craft Circle with SPECTRUM and Button Arts logo

In partnership with Button Factory Arts, we are pleased to offer Queer Craft Circle. This free group will meet monthly on Zoom to create crafts with local artists. Explore a variety of artistic mediums in this fun and casual group. We will meet on the last Friday of every month from 5:30-7:30pm. All supplies are included and will be ready for pickup at Button Factory Arts (25 Regina St S, Waterloo, ON N2J 1R8) before meetups. Registration is limited to 10 participants per group and is limited to 2SLGBTQ+-identified people in Waterloo Region. Registration will be open soon at buttonfactoryarts.ca. Our first circle will meet on Friday September 24th at 5:30pm.

2SLGBTQ+ Young Adults Networking Group:

Banner for Young Adults Networking Group with SPECTRUM logo.

This free group for 2SLGBTQ+ young professionals aged 25-40 will meet once per month at a restaurant in Waterloo Region. Participants will enjoy a free meal (not including alcoholic beverages) and the opportunity to network and socialize with other young 2SLGBTQ+ adults. The restaurant will be announced in advance and you will need to register to attend. Space will be limited! Our first meeting will take place at Waterloo Brewing on September 24th from 6-8pm. Registration will open soon.

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SPECTRUM News, Survey

Help Us Create a Trans Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Toolkit for Waterloo Region

SPECTRUM Waterloo’s 2SLGBTQ+ / Rainbow Community Space is working to develop a mental health promotion and suicide prevention toolkit for the transgender community in Waterloo Region. We need to hear from members of the trans community in the region, as well as from family members, carers, partners, friends and service providers, to learn more about their perspectives related to trans mental health promotion and suicide prevention.


The purpose of this project is to create a toolkit that reflects both research and community priorities to support trans people in Waterloo Region. In the initial phase of this project, we’re working to understand the perspectives of trans folks, families, carers, friends and service providers, in order to identify key areas of priority and key resources to be incorporated into the toolkit.

Who We Are

Opening their doors in 2012, SPECTRUM is Waterloo Region’s 2SLGBTQ+ / Rainbow community space. SPECTRUM provides a safe space for the region’s Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer community through programing, resources, events and more.

Wisdom2Action (W2A) is a 2SLGBTQ+ owned and operated social enterprise and consulting firm. Through W2A’s commitment to anti-oppression, community engagement, and evidence-based practice, we help civil society organizations and governments facilitate change and strengthen communities. Wisdom2Action is working with SPECTRUM to execute community engagement and support content creation of a toolkit around the mental health promotion and suicide prevention toolkit for the transgender community in Waterloo Region.

Get involved

If you would like to share your perspective on mental health promotion and suicide prevention for the trans community, and ultimately inform this toolkit, please complete the survey here:


If you would like to dive further into your perspectives with us, please consider expressing your interest to participate in a key informant interview here. Honorariums will be provided to all key informants for their time.

If you have any questions about this project, or would like more information, please contact Alyssa at Wisdom 2 Action.

Thank you for your interest and participation in this very important project.

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From Grapevine to Online: SPECTRUM creates an online directory of local service providers for the transgender community

From Grapevine to Online: SPECTRUM creates an online directory of local service providers for the transgender community

For those who identify as transgender, learning about service providers was often information shared during an informal chat after peer support meetings at SPECTRUM, an LGBTQ2+ community organization providing a supportive, positive and safe place for people of all ages in Waterloo Region. COVID-19 has temporarily halted those in-person meetings, but accelerated the launch of another initiative to move this information online.

The TransNAV GPS service, created by SPECTRUM, aims to help community members who identify as transgender find local service providers that are friendly to, and knowledgeable about, the transgender community.

“As a result of the lockdown, we found that the grapevine that happened after meetings where people would chat and get referrals for these services suddenly stopped,” says Melissa Kennedy, a SPECTRUM Board Member, transgender services coordinator and the project lead for the TransNAV GPS. “We had been considering this project for a while, and the pandemic really jumpstarted the fulfillment of that need.”

To help the TransNAV GPS project move from concept to action, Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation (KWCF) provided SPECTRUM with $27,500 in funding through the Emergency Community Support Fund. The funding was used to hire consultants, who conducted research on service providers interested in being a part of the project.

“This funding meant we could get the project started, which was the hardest part,” says Kennedy. “At the time, SPECTRUM was purely a volunteer organization, and finding volunteers to work on this during business hours is difficult. So this gave us the ability to hire individuals to work on this solidly for six to eight weeks.”

The online directory currently includes more than 160 local providers in a variety of areas, such as: medical, mental health, employment, legal, housing, social organizations and personal care.

Not only does the directory provide resources in a wide variety of areas, it’s also focused on service providers that are local to Waterloo Region, which was an important element of the project. Kennedy says that often, in order to find trans-friendly and trans-knowledgeable service providers, people have to travel far distances, and at great expense.

“Our real desire is to increase the number of local directory entries so that no one has to drive to Toronto or London to access these services,” says Kennedy.

The TransNAV GPS officially launched on May 13, 2021. Service providers who are interested in being included in the directory can contact transgender-services-director@ourspectrum.com. SPECTRUM also welcomes all feedback, which can be provided through a form on this webpage: www.ourspectrum.com/transnav.

To learn more about SPECTRUM, participate in their programs, or provide support to their initiatives, visit www.ourspectrum.com. For more information about the Emergency Community Support Fund, visit www.kwcf.ca/covid19-ecsf, or email info@kwcf.ca.

View the article at https://www.kwcf.ca/news/spectrum

To learn more about things that SPECTRUM has organized for Pride 2021 check www.ourspectrum.com/pride.

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