Celebrating Pride Week in Saskatoon: Honouring LGBTQ2S+ Trailblazers and Activists in Saskatchewan

At Robertson Stromberg LLP, we are proud to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ2S+ community as we kick off Pride Week in Saskatoon! This is a time to honour the courageous trailblazers and advocates who have played a pivotal role in shaping Saskatchewan’s rich history of human rights for all.

As we reflect on the progress made, it is important to recognize the individuals who fearlessly paved the way for equality and acceptance. Saskatchewan is home to remarkable trailblazers whose dedication and resilience have transformed lives and fostered a more inclusive society.

At Robertson Stromberg LLP, we are proud to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ2S+ community as we kick off Pride Week in Saskatoon! This is a time to honour the courageous trailblazers and advocates who have played a pivotal role in shaping Saskatchewan’s rich history of human rights for all.

As we reflect on the progress made, it is important to recognize the individuals who fearlessly paved the way for equality and acceptance. Saskatchewan is home to remarkable trailblazers whose dedication and resilience have transformed lives and fostered a more inclusive society.

Let us remember the incredible work of activists like Gens Hellquist, who played a prominent role in founding and developing the organized LGBTQ2S+ community in our province. Hellquist devoted his life to challenging societal norms and advocating for the rights and dignity of LGBTQ2S+ individuals. He was instrumental in establishing the Saskatoon chapter of the Gay Liberation Front, created the city’s LGBTQ2S+ magazine Perceptions, and was a founding member of Gay and Lesbian Health Services of Saskatoon (now known as OUTSaskatoon). He was also active on health issues, including HIV/AIDS.

We also celebrate the remarkable legacy of Neil Richards, a champion of our community and a cherished librarian at the University of Saskatchewan. Richards made it his life’s work to preserve and document the heritage of LGBTQ2S+ communities. Beyond his contributions at the U of S, Richards played a pivotal role in empowering the gay communities of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and Canada. His unwavering commitment to advocacy and awareness created a platform for marginalized voices, elevating important discussions surrounding LGBTQ2S+ rights and equality.

Peter Millard, a professor of English at the U of S, played an essential role in the struggle for more equitable treatment and acceptance of gays and lesbians in Saskatchewan. Millard worked tirelessly during the 1970s and 1980s to promote the inclusion of sexual orientation in Saskatchewan’s human rights law. Government members publicly credited his influence when the province amended the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code to protect lesbians and gays in 1993.
In 1979, a Board of Reference ordered the reinstatement of teacher Donald Jones who had been dismissed for being gay. Jones had been an elementary teacher in Smeaton for three years when two local adult men charged that he had made passes at them. The Nipawin School Board dismissed him on the grounds of immorality, alleged mental instability and unprofessional conduct. Although Jones stated he was willing to resign if he was reinstated, he requested the hearing to clear his name. The Board of Reference rebuked the School Board’s arbitrary process of dismissal, stating that it was not convinced that an indication of homosexual behavior was grounds for dismissal or that the local community would automatically reject an admitted homosexual.
In 2004, Justice Donna Wilson ruled that refusing same-sex couples a marriage licence violates their charter rights under the Constitution. “The common-law definition of marriage for civil purposes is declared to be ‘the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others,”’ Wilson wrote. She made the decision after hearing from five gay and lesbian couples who were denied marriage licences in the province.

Robertson Stromberg’s commitment to inclusivity and equality is echoed in the steps taken to protect LGBTQ2S+ individuals from discrimination. In a matter known as the Marriage Commissioners Appointed Under The Marriage Act (Re)2011 SKCA 3 [Marriage Commissioners Reference], RS successfully argued against the amendments that would allow marriage commissioners in Saskatchewan to refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies on religious grounds. 

We recognize that there is still a lot of work to be done, and we must continue striving for a future where every person feels safe, respected, and accepted for who they are.

Join us as we participate in the vibrant events, festivities, and discussions during Pride Week. Let us continue to champion LGBTQ2S+ rights and work towards a future where love, acceptance, and equality are the cornerstones of our community.

Happy Pride, Saskatoon! 🌈🌟

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