The Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers:
November 2016 – Provision Settlement Services for LGBTQ Newcomers to Edmonton: Identifying Needs and Best Practices
(Excerpt from Report)
It is vitally important that LGBTQ newcomers be given the lead in identifying needs, designing services and programs to meet those needs and in determining the approach to outreach to co- national communities. Settlement agencies can take the lead in instituting policy to increase visibility of LGBTQ newcomers to staff, training staff, and reducing institutional homophobia however it is necessary to go slowly and to consult with newcomers to avoid alienating mainstream clientele. Confidentiality is of the highest importance for LGBTQ newcomers; and sexuality and sexual needs may be prioritized differently than expected. Fostering connection with co-national communities and addressing homophobia in those communities is also of utmost importance for newcomer sense of identity and belonging, and, with the guidance of LGBTQ newcomer consultants, settlement agencies may identify roles to play in the process. LGBTQ newcomers’ stories are characterized by sometimes profound trauma in the sendingcountry and re-traumatization attendant to the refugee process, and settlement may bring with it the discovery of homophobia in mainstream Canada and newcomer communities, creating urgent needs around access to counselling and supports. Importantly, homophobia means that most settlement issues are also LGBTQ issues, as LGBTQ newcomers will need supports around learning how to assess personal safety and strategies for managing, coping with, or addressing homophobia. Many settlement service providers who were also newcomers report becoming more accepting of queer people, but many still need supports and training in this area; as do non- newcomer service providers. All providers need to resist the narrative of Canada as a savior nation because it obscures complexities of the newcomer experience and inhibits the ability to be reflexive about service design and delivery.