Nov 20, 2011 marked the 13th annual international Transgender Day of Remembrance. An historic event occured in Newfoundland, as for the first time ever, members of the LGBT community formally booked an event on the property of the headquarters of the Provincial Government - the Confederation Building. Members of the local LGBT community and their allies, came together this morning for a candle light vigil that was produced and emceed by Jennifer McCreath, co-founder of St. John's Pride Inc (stjohnspride.org) and East Coast Trans Alliance (eastcoasttransalliance.org).
Fighting wind and cold, a crowd of about 15 gathered at 10 am for a one hour event that featured a variety of special speakers and events. All three major political parties took the time to write formal letters of recognition, which were read aloud. Also, statements were sent in and read by other prominent national trans advocates Christin Milloy (the first openly-trans person to ever run for provincial political office), and Josie Harding (co-founder of ECTA and chair of Moncton Trans Peer Support Group).
The names of all reported murdered transpeople were read aloud, candles were lite in their honour, and a moment of silence was observed. In addition to memorializing the victims, McCreath ensured that the opportunity was taken for other issues to be discussed at this event, especially since mainsteam media was in attendance to cover the event. Noah Davis-Power, the youngest Canadian to ever run in a provincial election (an NDP candidate who also happens to be an out LGBT Newfoundlander) spoke about the power of individuals being able to overcome adversity. Rob Sinnott, Chair of local PFLAG Chapter and a local LGBT youth group spoke about the resources that are available in this Province for both youth and others.
McCreath took the microphone again and challenged the education system to step up to the plate and do their job - that being, to educate our youth about the real world, a world that includes LGBT people. She also spoke about the challenges trans people still face today in Newfoundland, including lack of recognition in the Human Rights Act, poor out of date health care policies and services, and societal discrimination with regards to employment, housing, and harassment. McCreath also specifically thanked Noah, Rob, and Egale Canada for their hard work lobbying the education system to better deal with bullying. Local musician Terry Rielly was also on hand to sing two new songs that he had written, one that he initially wrote for Pride Week, and one specifically for this occasion.