May 31, 2016 (Toronto, ON) – Today, Egale Canada Human Rights Trust (Egale) officially unveiled plans to build Egale Centre, Canada’s first and Toronto’s only facility that will combine the proven counselling services of Egale Youth Outreach with emergency and transitional housing exclusively dedicated to serving homeless LGBTIQ2S (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer, questioning and Two Spirit) youth. When its doors open, Egale Centre promises to fundamentally transform the support services offered to Toronto’s LGBTIQ2S population.
To help mark this historic occasion, Helen Kennedy, Executive Director of Egale, was joined by Premier Kathleen Wynne, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Glen Murray, Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and an exciting group of project partners, including:
Ed Clark, former President and CEO of TD Bank and co-chair of Egale Centre’s capital contributions campaign;
Glenn Pushelberg, partner at the internationally-celebrated design firm Yabu Pushelberg;
Mitchell Cohen, President of The Daniels Corporation, Canada’s preeminent builder and developer of residential and commercial communities across the GTA;
Paul Dowsett, principal architect at SUSTAINABLE.TO, a leading Canadian full-service sustainable architectural practice; and
Greg Spearn, President and CEO of Toronto Community Housing.
There is a clear and urgent need for a facility exclusively dedicated to homeless LGBTIQ2S youth. Nearly one in four homeless youth in Toronto identify as LGBTIQ2S and, facing homophobia at home, they lack the traditional social supports necessary for the transition from childhood to adulthood. Once on the street, these same youth report being afraid to access mainstream shelters and housing for fear of physical, psychological and sexual violence. In response to these challenges, Egale Centre will be exclusively dedicated to homeless LGBTIQ2S youth.
Egale Centre will further distinguish itself from other shelters by incorporating the proven counselling services of Egale Youth Outreach, which has now been operating for over two years. In April 2014, Egale opened this crisis intervention and housing stabilization program to immediately begin addressing the needs of Toronto’s homeless LGBTIQ2S youth. The lessons learned from Egale Youth Outreach have helped shape the core of Egale Centre’s approach, design and operating plan.
Funds have been contributed by a diverse number of people and organizations who shared the belief that Toronto's homeless LGBTIQ2S youth require the safety, security and community that will be afforded by Egale Centre.
Egale Centre is expected to open its doors in early 2019.
“It is tremendously exciting to see so many distinguished voices and organizations coming together in support of Egale Centre. This is a one-of-a-kind project that will fundamentally transform and improve the support services available to LGBTQI2S youth in Toronto. On behalf of Egale, I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude and appreciation to all who have contributed toward this important project.”
—Helen Kennedy, Executive Director, Egale Human Rights Trust
“Finding solutions to LGBTIQ2S youth homelessness has been a priority of mine at City Hall. By providing support and safety to Toronto’s homeless LGBTIQ2S youth, Egale's Centre is filling a critical gap. In doing so, this facility promises to strengthen the social fabric of our city and I am proud to commit $1 million in funding to this project. I look forward to Egale Centre opening its doors to the benefit of all members of this community.”
—Kristyn Wong-Tam, Councillor, Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale
“This is an issue that I've been passionate about for a long time. Everyone thinks that large urban centres are safe and inclusive environments for LGBTIQ2S youth, when in fact we know that this is not the case. Our hope it to take this initiative to other cities. It's not just a Toronto problem.”
—Ed Clark, Co-Chair, Egale Centre Campaign
“Warm, modern and bright, the interior concept for Egale Centre is as progressive and sophisticated as the organization’s mandate to nurture and support LGBTIQ2S youth in Toronto’s downtown core. Our desire was to create interiors that would not be viewed as institutional. A transitional home can, and should be, uplifting and nurturing; as well as practical, without compromising the aesthetic value.”
—Glenn Pushelberg, Partner, Yabu Pushelberg
"We are proud to be leading the design for this game-changing facility—the first of its kind in Canada and only the ninth in the world. At the outset of this project, we looked to and engaged with the local community through a charrette with a group of street-involved LGBTIQ2S youth and various allied service providers. The resulting design includes a number of sustainable features that together achieve SUSTAINABLE.TO's goal of a healthy, affordable, resource- and energy-efficient design solution."
—Paul Dowsett, Principal Architect, SUSTAINABLE.TO
“Today’s announcement is all about inclusion and building a city that welcomes and supports all residents. We firmly believes that all of us, working together, can create that city, and the partnership that the Egale team has brought together to build Egale Centre is a brilliant testament to the power and strength of that idea.”
—Mitchell Cohen, President, The Daniels Corporation
“On any given night in our country, about 35,000 people have no homes to return to. Statistics show that about one in four homeless youth in Toronto identify themselves as LGBTQ2S. Even in Canada, there is a still a portion of youth who risk being kicked out of their home once they come out to their families. More needs to be done to help our LGBTQ2S youth. We are glad to be able to partner with a leading organization like Egale to support them in programs that encourage and foster resilience and independence.”
—Louis Gagnon, President, Service and Distribution, Intact Financial Corporation
“I’m very proud of this partnership with Egale that will transform our property into Canada’s first facility that will combine counselling with transitional and emergency housing for LGBTIQ2S youth. This centre is filling a great need in our city by providing a safe, stable home for youth who face discrimination and harassment in their daily lives. Once completed, this is a model that can be applied across the country, and is one that underscores what is possible when the private, non-profit and public sectors form real partnerships and build a better city for us all.”
—Greg Spearn, President and CEO, Toronto Community Housing
“This project is exactly the kind of development that the Garden District Residents Association supports. It will beautify our neighbourhood and significantly improve the existing building to meet the needs of a severely underserved part of our community, while reflecting the diversity of the Garden District itself."
—Grant Bowers, Garden District Residents’ Association
"LGBTQ homeless youth is, unfortunately, a growing issue, and this new centre is a tremendous move forward by the community to address the issue. I am proud to be part of the team. "
—Mark S. Bonham, Co-Chair, Egale Centre Campaign