Thursday, July 21, 2016

St. John's Pride Breaking Their Own Rules, Needs Intervention!

St. John's Pride breaking their own rules, needs intervention!

July 21, 2016,

St. John's Pride is broken, they are breaking their own rules, and they need to be fixed!  Over the past few weeks, there appears to be a large amount of concern and criticism directed towards St. John's Pride Inc. Perhaps an indirect reason for this level of upset, could be accounted to the fact that the 2016 edition of St. John's Pride Inc. has appeared to have violated at least seven of their own corporate by-laws.

This article is broken down into three parts. Part one will review the infractions, part two will review problematic areas of the existing by-laws, and part three will introduce proposed actions and solutions to resolve the problems and make the organization stronger.

First of all, corporate by-laws are a mandatory component of non-profit organizations that are registered in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. By-laws make it clear as to what the organizations' mandate is, and to take steps of self-guidance to ensure the mandate is met, on account of having the by-laws respected and followed.

This article will outline seven possible infractions, that are apparent from the naked eye, of an outsider. There could potentially be more violations that are not known to the public, due to the level of secrecy involved with Pride Inc business, and because of their self-imposed gag order on former board members.  In addition to the infractions, this article will also take a look at some of the by-laws that may not be appropriate for the best interest of this organization, or their members and stakeholders. But first of all, let's take a look at the appeared infractions:

1.3 showcase diversity of the community. One could argue that certain components of the diversity within their community was attempted to be silenced and erased, when a certain organization was asked not to wear uniforms in the parade.

2.1.3 - regular publishing of financial information.  Note, St. John's pride has not published any financial information to their website since 2014.

3.6.1 - hold by-elections within two weeks of any resignation of board members. There were at least two cases where this did not happen.

6.8 publish an Annual Report. This has not happened since 2014.

9.1.A.G (1 of 3) a public release should be issued by the end of January announcing an AGM (Annual General Meeting) and by-elections. This did not happen in 2016.

9.1.A.G (2 of 3) an AGM is to occur before end of April. This did not happen in 2016.

9.1.A.G (3 of 3) Members of the Board are to be made accessible to answer questions from the public during pride week. This did not happen as the board refused to answer several inquiries from both the media and members of the general public.

Quite frankly, although there are many sections of the By-laws that I do not agree with, I feel that all seven of these ones are good ones, and that violation of any of them would cause harm to both the organization and their membership and stakeholders.

Now, for part two of this article, I am going to highlight some sections of the by-laws that I think are problematic:

Membership Policy - the policy is not clear enough, nor does it recognize a method for identified members to be formally credentialed. This could open the board to abuse where they could unfairly deny or disqualify people or organizations from holding membership.

Two-tiered Board Structure - the two-tiered power structure gives too much power to the top 3 executive positions and appears to render the 6 at-large members as voiceless.

Board-position Job titles - The general purpose of any Board of Directors is to oversee an organization and provide guidance.  Boards are supposed to appoint or hire people to do the actual work. Tying specific job titles to board positions may put undue pressure on board members to get work done on their own, rather than give them the freedom to delegate.  Also, while members of the organization deserve a say in who sits on the board, they might not have all information necessary to determine job or task suitability of board members.  There is a big difference between a job interview, and a board election.

Two-year terms - the top three people in the Board should not be given a free pass for a second year, especially if they are violating their own by-laws. All board members should have to face the electorate every year.

Board size - too many cooks spoil the brew. Nine board members appears to be too many, given the age of the organization, and the small size of their identifiable membership size.

Board member commitment - too many people resigning is cause for concern. Steps need to be taken to ensure reasonable measures that board members will fulfill their full terms.

Confidentiality and Non-compete clause - not sure I even understand how or why St. John's Pride would identify competitors. It's not like there is another Pride organization in St. John's looking to steal their mandate.  The gag order needs to be removed as too much secrecy and lack of transparency leads to lack of accountability and opens the door for corruption and incompetence to proliferate.

Part three of this article will introduce some proposed solutions that could resolve these problems, make the organization stronger, and help the community of members.

Proposed Solutions:

1 - Shrink the Board to five members. All seats will hold equal weight in terms of power and voting rights.

2 - Elect a Chair, a Vice-chair, and three at large.  All five seats having equal voting power with majority required.

3 - Appoint a volunteer Executive Director to run the organization and report to the board. The executive director will attend all board meetings and will act as liaison between the board, the members, and the general public.

4 - Specific job duties will not be voted on by the public, but will be assigned by the executive director, with input from the board. They can delegate work tasks and responsibilities to themselves, or appoint others to "officer" positions, in accordance with the NL Corporations Act.

5 - All Board seats are to be up for election every year.

6 - Board members to file a $100 bond to the organization. They will forfeit their bond if they resign from their position before completing their full one year term. Bond will be refundable upon completion of their full year. Forfeited bonds will be considered as donations to the organization.

7 - Qualifications for membership rights need to be quantifiable, and not just left to the discretion of the board. A certified credential is to be issued to all members clearly stating their membership status.

8 - Clear cut policies to be developed regarding how financial decisions are made, including tenders and request-for-proposals. Complete financial statements to be published on the organizations' website every three months.

9 - Public meetings to be held every three months, with at least three weeks notice on the website of date, time, and location. Official Board meetings to take place once a month.

10 - Information and Records Management policy to be created and enforced by the organization. Policies should be consistent with policies currently in place for the provincial government.

11 - Complete elimination of non-compete clause and gag-order for former Board members.

12 - Re-instate the policy from the March 2012 by-laws that gives the board the power to remove fellow board members who violate by-laws or who cause other types of harm to the organization.

13 - A separate stand-alone organization with five different board members will be created to audit St. John's Pride Inc. once a year. They will be given full access to all St. John's Pride documentation. They will not have order power, but will be free to give recommendations and expose any information about Pride that they feel the public has a right to know. A rep from this audit organization will be present at all Board meetings as an observer and may report back to the public on anything suspicious.

Jennifer McCreath lives in St. John's and has been involved with Pride Week activities in St. John's since 2007. She was a co-founder of St. John's Pride Inc. in September, 2010. She resigned from the Board in March 2012, shortly after deploying Pride's first publicly-elected Board policy, but continues to hold her membership. She is publicly out as transsexual, non-binary gendered, and lesbian. She has over ten years of experience working in policy and business development for both government and not-for-profit organizations. She holds a Bachelor of Administration Management from Athabasca University.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

McCreath reacts to Orlando, avoids St John's LGBT event

No, you did not see me at the vigil tonight. Sadly, I do not feel welcome or comfortable in a room full of many so-called and self-proclaimed Newfoundland gay/lesbian 'community leaders' ....most of whom have no respect for me or all the trail-blazing I have done for trans rights and trans visibility in NL and many other parts of Canada over the past 10 years.

But don't let that give anyone the impression that I am not extremely devastated and upset with what happened in Orlando. The gay bar shooting and the Christina Grimmie shooting have both made me angry and upset, and I choose to mourn and reflect in the comfort of my private space here at home..... ‪#‎nlpoli‬ ‪#‎grimmie‬ ‪#‎orlando‬

Saturday, May 14, 2016

International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia - Announcements!

IDAHAT (International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia) is on May 17. I gather Justin Trudeau has a "major" announcement planned. Well, guess what?? Jennifer McCreath will also have a major announcement!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

McCreath officially done with NL politcs!

....might as well make this news official, they say one should never say never in politics, but I will NEVER run for political office in the province of NL ever again, at any level. I've offered myself up twice, but the electorate and I are obviously on completely different pages. But my two runs were great experiences though, and I have become a stronger and better person because of them.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

East Coast Trans Alliance Completes Mission, Closes Doors.

It's with mixed emotions that I announce today that the East Coast Trans Alliance will be closing down permanently. It has been an amazing six years and the group has accomplished many great things. I consider this one of the most successful projects of my entire life, and I am proud to say that we have essentially accomplished everything we could, and that there is no longer a need for the organization to exist.

The ECTA was conceptualized in 2010 by two transwomen who seemed to be the only out transwomen activists in their respective provinces of New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador. A year later, we would add trans people from Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

The core goal was to take steps to bring trans people together to work on education, activism, and social projects that would put our faces on the map in Eastern Canada.  It was suggested that each province had too few out trans people to make a difference, so that by bonding together, we'd have strength in numbers.

Six years later, and after several successful tours, videos, live presentations, and pride week activities, we have since seen many other trans folks come out and get involved in this type of work.  As I look around the internet, not only do I see many trans people out and involved in all four provinces, but I see many provincial and even local trans groups on the go that are making a difference.

Ultimately, while the ECTA won't necessarily take credit for all of this, we can feel satisfied that our mandate as an organization has now been fulfilled.

At the same time, we must remember that trans people still face extreme challenges and unfairness in this world, especially in the four eastern-most provinces of Canada.  Health Care, Employment, Housing, and basic Human Rights are still issues most trans people face every day.

I'd like to say thank you to the core members of the ECTA who have done so much great work with me on this project over the past 6 years, and an additional thanks to the many additional people and organizations who have partnered with us on many successful endeavors. We can consider ourselves the foundation for much of the great trans work currently being done today by so many other great people.

Jennifer McCreath

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Transgender Senator? Why not? It's Almost 2016! and it's International Human Rights Day!

My open letter to the Prime Minister, which I emailed him tonight!

December 10, 2015

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

As I am sure you are aware, Dec. 10 represents International Human Rights Day - in commemoration of Dec. 10, 1948 when the UN declared Universal Human rights.

One of the first things you did after being elected, that caught my attention, was utter the phrase "It's 2015". Ever since that moment, there has been an increased amount of attention paid to the issue of women being under-represented in political offices nation-wide.

As I am sure you are aware, the first female to run as a Federal candidate, and coincidentally, the first female candidate to be elected into the Canadian parliament, was Agnes MacPhail in 1921. It's been a long 96 years, but it is exciting to finally have a Federal Cabinet that has equal representation of male and females.

Unfortunately, equality for other groups in politics remains a challenge. When I heard those words, "It's 2015", the first thing that came to my mind was that it may as well be 1915 for those of us who are transgendered. While it took 54 years from date of Confederation, for Canada to elect a female, it took 148 years for an openly-transgendered person to even appear on a ballot as a candidate - and that candidate garnished a mere 84 votes in a rural Newfoundland riding, for a very small and new political party who is a virtual unknown entity to Canadian's outside of french-speaking Quebec (Forces et Democratie).

While I knew my chances of winning a seat were slim, I hope that by stepping up to the plate as a candidate, and by having the endorsement of a registered political party, I will have encouraged more transgendered Canadians to take an interest in politics and consider offer themselves for public office in the future. Furthermore, I hope that all registered political parties will take trans people more seriously and entertain running them as candidates.

Yesterday, I listened as Randall Garrison tabled a private-member's Bill to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to include "gender identity and gender expression", a bill quite similar to others that have passed through the three-reading process of the House in the two previous parliaments. As we all know, those bills died on the order table in what many consider to be a broken down senate.

Transgender human rights appear to be the hottest human right's entity of our times. As I sit here typing a mere three weeks before my new-year's-eve 42nd birthday, I can't help but feel concerned that time is not on my side. I cannot wait 96 years for the same equality that women celebrated this year in your Cabinet.

The good news, is that I have an interesting and exciting proposal. While Canadian's might not yet be ready to elect an openly transgender candidate, the situation with the senate presents itself a very unique opportunity. The vacancies in the senate create a huge opportunity for demographics who are under-represented in Government, to find a meaningful seat at a table where a qualified representative could add significant value.

While many people did not take Forces et Democratie seriously, this party was a lifeline for me at a time when i felt utter disgust and pessimism for the current state of Canadian politics. A party that does not have a party line, but allows their MPs to truly bring the issues of their constituents to the table, seemed like a breath of fresh air. This may be exactly what the senate needs in a time where it is dominated by old partisan hacks who have ideologies about human rights, and other issues, that are far outdated.

So I am asking you to please give serious consideration to appointing me, Jennifer McCreath, Canada's first openly-transgender federal political candidate, to the Canadian Senate.

This would be a great opportunity for you to demonstrate your commitment and leadership to the entire country that 1) you plan on taking steps to ensure that all minority groups get a seat at the table, and 2) that future senate appointments will not just go to life-long partisan Liberals.

Furthermore, let me also tell you why I, Jennifer McCreath, the person, not the trans-person, should be taken seriously as a prospective senate candidate:

I boast education, work experience, and volunteer non-profit sector advocacy and activism work that will stand up to just about anyone else who has ever sat in the senate. I hold a Bachelor degree in Administration Management from Canada's most cutting edge university - Athabasca, and I hold a College Diploma in Business Administration from Humber in Toronto.

I have over ten years of work experience in a variety of government environments - including stints with the Feds, the province of Ontario, and the Province of NL, where I have done a variety of policy and business development work. I also have tangible front-line experience in Government rolls dealing with the public, including a stint processing EI claims, and my current role in Police communications accepting 911 calls for police service. I also bring some private sector experience to the table as well, having worked in banking and retail hardware, and wholesale electronic products, among other things.

In my spare time, I co-founded St. John's Pride Incorporated, and helped turn pride week celebrations in Newfoundland from a small underground event, into a week-long celebration that involves and includes many corporate and citizen community partners. I have also undertaken significant work in the field of transgender inclusion in international sports, as I penned a non-binary-gender-inclusion policy, that was ultimately accepted and put into practice by the World Outgames in 2009 - where I also became the first formally-recognized transgender marathon runner and distance swimmer in the world. I have also written and applied a "transition in the workplace" policy, as well as have created a Resource Guide for transitioning in the province of NL. Finally, I have organized and delivered a variety of trans education and awareness events at town halls and schools all over the country.

Finally, I bring some impressive pedigree to the table. My mother spent 25 years as a senior policy adviser for the Ontario Ministry of Education, and my father spent years as a high school teacher, broadcast journalist, Human Rights adjudicator at both a Federal and Provincial level, and did a stint as an MP where he served a short stint as a Cabinet Minister under Canada's only female Prime Minister, Kim Campbell.

Perhaps the biggest challenge trans people face today, is that we are still not taken seriously by our fellow human beings. We generally possess excellent education and work experiences, and tests have shown that we generally rate high on the various aptitude and IQ tests that can be done on people. Yet, we find ourselves chronically underemployed, often living in poverty, and often deal with family and friends who abandon us. Sure, some people might question you if you were to appoint me to the Senate, but you know, I think the perfect answer, would be a great follow up to your previous answer. 2015 was a great year. But let's make 2016 even better. Why appoint a credible and experienced transgendered person to the senate? Well, It's 2016!!!!

In closing, since it is a Thursday, I am attaching a little #ThrowbackThursday photo of when we met briefly for a chat in 2012, at an event organized by the amazing Siobhan Coady, an NL Liberal who was supportive of trans people and trans issues many many years before it became on the radar of being politically correct.

Look forward to hearing from you, and thanks for taking the time to read my little e-mail.

Jennifer McCreath
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

McCreath's reaction to Trans NL Vital Stats policy receives praise!

My spur-of-the-moment comments that I post for online articles are not something I normally blog about, but this one seems to have gotten a great deal of positive reaction and response.. so here it is... The context of this post is regarding the news that Service NL has been ordered by a court to allow transgender-identified people to change their ID documents without requiring surgical procedures:

Part One:

.....I think the education system needs to a better job educating people about the difference and dichotomy between gender and sex.. I also think we need to review access, privacy, and identity proofing laws.... A fundamental value of the privacy act is to only collect, use, or disclose personal information that is absolutely necessary...

How one person sees themselves in terms of being on a masculine or feminine scale, is none of anyone's business, nor does it have anything to do with their body parts....

We used to ask parents to classify their new born babies with race, creed, and religious values... all without giving the baby a chance to grow up and decide for themselves which religion they want to practice, let alone allow them the opportunity to keep that information private....

If a trans-identified person wants to purchase liquor at a store, there is no need for the person to have to out themselves as trans when they show ID that is only needed to prove their age...

Part Two:

Also, what's being lost in the shuffle: it's nice to see some movement on ID changing policies, the health care policies still lag behind in NL. many trans folks can't find doctors willing to work with them on both trans and non-trans health matters.. furthermore, the current policies are full of red tape that actually cause the tax payers more money to help trans people, than is necessary...

Part Three:

Being trans is tough.. being trans while living in NL is even tougher.. so many trans folks leave here for a better life in Toronto or Vancouver.. I feel privileged that i have been able to make a life for myself here.... I can only hope that the day comes that we can all be treated equally and taken seriously by society and all government agencies