The Positive Spaces Initiative (PSI) was developed by the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) to share resources and increase organizational capacity across the immigrant- and refugee-serving sector to more effectively serve LGBTQIA+ immigrants, refugees, and newcomers. The initiative is grounded in the understanding that LGBTQIA+ newcomers are often a part of multiple communities, and seek welcoming service regardless of age, race, cultural community, faith or religion, disability, gender, status, etc. The strength of Positive Spaces is in creating an environment which strives to understand the overlapping and intersecting nature of our communities.
What are Positive Spaces?
Positive Spaces are welcoming environments where Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Pansexual, Genderqueer, etc. (LGBTQIA+) immigrants, refugees, and newcomers are able to access culturally inclusive services with dignity and respect, and where service providers can work free from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Everyone can work to create Positive Spaces by challenging homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, heterosexism, monosexism, and cissexism.
While gains have been made regarding LGBTQIA+ inclusion within settlement services, discrimination, stigma and silence surrounding the issues still exist. We strive to create Positive Spaces in order to acknowledge the rich diversity that exists in our communities and to continue to foster the development of inclusive spaces.
Positive Spaces encourage training, education, leadership, and resource-sharing to support LGBTQ+ newcomers, staff, volunteers and community members to fully participate in communities. By helping to create inclusive spaces, you are demonstrating your commitment to visibly welcome diversity. You are also ensuring that everyone has the chance to access service in a safe, welcoming environment – which is a human right.
How To Get Started
Anyone can work to make a space more inclusive. To begin, download the Starter Kit and review the resources and information on how to create Positive Spaces. Many cities across Ontario also have local positive space campaigns being hosted through university and college campuses, in health care organizations, and in workplaces. Connect to local organizations doing similar work to build capacity and grow your network. If you are seeking Positive Spaces Training for your staff, our in-person or online curriculum may be a useful tool for you. Check out the Find Training and Find Resources sections of this site to learn more.