United Way of Calgary and Area is honoured to be part of the celebration for Pride Week in Calgary! We hope this week furthers breakthroughs in diversity and inclusion for our city. By understanding and supporting diversity and inclusion, we can reduce poverty, further healthy relationships and social inclusion, and support mental health– regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or race.

Although we’ve made major strides in recent years toward equality In Canada, 2SLGBTQ+ people still face a lack of acceptance. A study by Ipsos found that 61% of adults say they support 2SLGBTQ+ people being open about their sexual orientation and gender identity and 48% say they are comfortable with a display of affection. Obviously, there are still strides to be made before the 2SLGBTQ+ community is fully accepted.

In Canada, younger people tend to feel less involved in their neighbourhoods. Seven-in-ten Canadians over 54 years of age say they feel a sense of belonging in their communities compared to five-in-ten under 35 who agree. Overall, COVID-19 has exacerbated these issues, with 36% of Canadians saying they interact with neighbours less than they used to. With social inclusion and community being so important and vital to living a healthy life, statistics like these are discouraging. People with stronger social connections increase their lifespan by 50%.

A man sits miserably.

United Way recognizes that we need to build communities in and around Calgary where EVERYONE can build connections. Discrimination and stigma are everyday realities that can create and compound mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, or depression, greatly affecting quality of life.

Two people at Pride 2022

That’s why we invest in and work with partner agencies like the Centre for Sexuality, which delivers programs and services to support healthy sexuality for every stage of life. The Centre of Sexuality does exemplary work within Calgary’s 2SLGBTQ+ community, including supporting the parents and families of gender-creative children, running Camp fYrefly to help queer and trans youth and young adults become leaders, building the Gay Straight Alliance Network, increasing visibility of Two-Spirit identities in Treaty 7, and offering counselling and health resources. This work in Calgary is vital in furthering social inclusion, and therefore, overall inclusion for Calgarians.

Issues faced by the 2SLGBTQ+ and other marginalized populations are multifaceted. When you feel rejected by your community, it harms mental health by making it difficult to find a fulfilling job, meet people, or feel safe. That’s why we’re are committed to ensuring our local investments support a model where citizens receive compassionate and personalized access to support when and where they need it.

A group of United Way employees and their families at Pride 2022

Through our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategy, United Way of Calgary and Area contributes to Calgary’s growth as a community where everyone has a strong sense of belonging. One of the key principles of our DEI strategy is demonstrating allyship to all community partners, like Calgary Pride, working collectively to make Calgary an inclusive city.