Brendalee fled her homeland because of LGBTQ+ persecution
“I’m a proud Black lesbian woman from the Bahamas. My partner and I came to Canada because we were afraid of being outed and the violence we would face. The Bahamas is very religious and doesn’t tolerate LGBTQ+ relationships. Here in Canada, I became an LGBTQ+ refugee and newcomer advocate after going through a challenging refugee process myself.
I started volunteering at different LGBTQ+ and newcomer organizations, and presented at universities, radio shows and at 2SLGBTQ+ conferences. Along the way, I met one of my mentors, Ranjith Kulatilake, who was running a program called Rainbow Connect. That’s where I really found my path.”
Operating in an inclusive, safe space, Rainbow Connect helps LGBTQ+ immigrants and refugees who are struggling to adapt to their new life in Canada. The wide array of programs, including employment services, settlement support, social chats, referrals and advocacy, eases the transition.
“I started volunteering at Rainbow Connect, and was excited to start Peer to Peer Chit Chat, a bi-weekly chat group. At the same time, I started working at the Corner Drop-in as a screener, and later, as a full-time Community Support Worker.
The Neighbourhood Group recognizes the potential and strengths of marginalized people and helps them thrive. I’m delighted to be part of that.”