Recuperating from the Vancouver Pride Festival and feeling generous? Vancouver’s LGBTQ2+ community has a diverse range of groups, foundations, not-for-profits and charitable organizations devoted to education, fundraising and providing services for needs specific to our community. Many were created and evolved out of necessity, to address issues and provide services for people and situations that were not being addressed, or fully funded publicly.
Grass roots efforts, some of which started in the early 1980’s have evolved into registered professional foundations and organizations, which provide ongoing special services and produce a series of colourful fundraising events that highlight Vancouver’s LGBTQ2+ social calendar, year-round.
Following is a list of prominent organizations in Vancouver, with links to find out more about their operations, and to make direct donations in support of their efforts.
Rainbow Refugee Society
This Vancouver-based community group provides support to LGBTQ2+ and HIV+ refugee claimants in BC and other municipalities across Canada. As a registered not-for-profit and charity, they also work with government to create awareness of LGBTQ2+ refugees, and to secure sponsorship. Volunteer driven society with regularly scheduled meetings at Qmunity.
Signature Events: Annual event on International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, as well as A Night in Damascus fundraiser.
Foundation of Hope
Starting with a small group who co-sponsored two gay Syrian refugees, the Rainbow Foundation of Hope is now a registered charity with a board of directors that provides financial aid to other charities supporting LGBTQ2+ refugees and asylum seekers. Participate in STRUT, their annual flagship fundraiser, or donate online to support their efforts.
A Loving Spoonful
In 1989, after witnessing a once-successful lawyer who lost his job due to his HIV status eating out of a dumpster, founder Easter Armas began to provide meals and support for those living with HIV/AIDS. Twenty years on, A Loving Spoonful has served over 100,000 meals and relies on donations, as well as a successful series of signature events to supplement its programs
Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation
A legacy of Dr. Peter Jepson-Young, who documented his journey with HIV/AIDS on a CBC television series before his death in 1992, The Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation is a world-renowned leader that raises funds to support HIV day health care programs, as well as a live-in resident care program at the Dr. Peter Centre, which opened in Vancouver’s West End in 1993.
Signature events: Passions, Pride Cocktail Kickoff, World AIDS Day, Art For Life
Friends For Life
The Vancouver Friends for Life Society began in 1993 as wellness centre in Vancouver’s West End, providing holistic and wellness programs for people and their families living with life-challenging illnesses, including HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and cancer. Attending their weekly Bingo For Life with Carlotta Gurl at Mary’s On Davie is a great way to help them raise funds, or you can donate directly online.
Signature events: Bingo For Life, Art For Life
Canada’s first HIV/AIDS service organization began in 1983 in response to the growing AIDS epidemic at the time. Over thirty years later, AIDS Vancouver continues to be a world leader in HIV prevention, education, and provides a wide range of services and programs that include an HIV Help Line, a Supplemental Grocery Program, Financial Assistance Fund, and more.
Signature events: National HIV Testing Day, Red Ribbon Gala, AIDS Candlelight Memorial, World AIDS Day Red Ribbon Awards
Positive Living BC
Positive Living BC is a registered non-profit Society and a membership based organization that is unique in that it is run and directed by people living with HIV/AIDS. A wide range of services, programs and resources aim to empower and support its members to face everyday challenges, and to live healthy and productive lives. Associate membership is also available.
Signature events: AccolAIDS, RED, AIDS Walk Vancouver, Red Ribbon Breakfast
McLaren Housing Society of BC
The first of its kind in Canada, McLaren Housing began in 1987 to provide housing for five individuals living with HIV/AIDS in Vancouver. Today it provides housing, housing assistance and support for hundreds of low income and homeless people and families living with HIV/AIDS in British Columbia. Attending their annual McLaren Sparkles event is a great way to contribute.
Signature events: McLaren Sparkles
Out In Schools
An initiative of Out On Screen, who also run the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Out in Schools has been helping to provide outreach, education and changes of mind about homophobia, transphobia and bullying in Vancouver’s school districts since 2004. Using film and onsite workshops, Out In Schools has reached the majority of school districts in BC, with a goal to reach them all by the end of 2019.
Qmunity is considered Vancouver’s LGBTQ2+ community centre. This non-profit organization is centrally located in Davie Village overlooking the rainbow crosswalks, and provides a wide range of services, including counselling, programs, workshops, resources, as well as a safe space for youth, support and social groups. Volunteers are appreciated.
In addition to signature events and donations, these organizations also rely heavily on a large number of volunteers to reach their goals, and to deliver their much-needed services and programs. Donating time is highly valued and gives back a great sense of community in return.
Angus Praught is president of Gayvan.com Travel Marketing, a Vancouver-based company featuring LGBTQ2+ welcoming destinations and businesses, in the Vancouver region, Canada, and beyond.
Sign up for the Out In Vancouver newsletter if you are interested in hearing about more non-heteronormative and diverse news, events, and culture that are part of Vancouver–and to be notified on the latest contests.
By Angus Praught