EXPRESS - NEWCOMER & IMMIGRANT
QUEER YOUTH PROJECT
Express is a safe and supportive space where newcomers to Canada and/or
immigrant queer youth find a place gather, share ideas, questions,
and have fun!
EXPRESS targets and provides support for youth
between16 and 29 who are immigrants, newcomers to Canada,
refugees, refugee claimants and non-status queer and trans youth.
Most of the participants are young people coming from countries
and/or cultures where it's not safe, legal or easy to be queer or
EXPRESS includes a weekly meeting on Tuesdays
from 6:00 p.m to 8:00 p.m. The project had a number of newcomer/immigrant queer
youth involved from more than 20 different nationalities and/or
ethnicities since May of 2002.
An internet-based group and mailing list,
as well as a Facebook
private group and Facebook pageSome of the youth participating in EXPRESS can
not - due to work commitment or school schedule - attend all
the weekly meetings, and some other newcomer/immigrant queer
youth have not been able to participate in any of the meetings
because of family or cultural pressures over their sexuality.
An internet based group and mailing list has been created to
maintain some level of connection between the youth and provide
some of the support they need outside the regular meeting hours.
contact Olimpia by email oboido(at)sherbourne(dot)on(dot)ca or at 416 - 324 5080 to be added to the mailing list
Some of the youth participating in EXPRESS are
refugee claimants on the basis of their sexual orientation.
The project provides significant direct support to these youth
in this process as well as the personal and emotional support
they receive at the drop-in meetings. Since the launch of the
project a significant number of youth participants have gained their legal
status in Canada with support from EXPRESS.
The Newcomer/Immigrant Queer & Trans Ontario Youth Guide
To get free copies contact Olimpia at:
Suhail Abualsameed is a community worker and a public
speaker who’s concerned with issues of multiculturalism,
diversity, identity and the social determinants of health among
Suhail has been running SOY's newcomer/immigrant
queer youth program since 2002. He has also coordinated community based
research of TeenNet (a research project based at the department of
Public Health Sciences at the University of Toronto) in the Middle
east since 2004. He recently initiated and started coordinating a
Community Based Research project addressing HIV/AIDS issues among
the Muslim communities in the GTA.
Suhail is on leave until February 2013.
How to contact Suhail:
Phone - 416 324 5080
E-mail - suhail (at) sherbourne (dot) on (dot) ca
Olimpia Boido (Co-facilitator)
Olimpia Boido is a community worker who is passionate about
intercultural relations for equity. Using this angle, she has
been working with a number of communities, including newcomer
queer communities and newcomer women survivors of violence, at
the grassroots and structural levels.
Olimpia has been involved in Express since 2009.
THINGS WE'VE DONE, FUN AND MORE...
- "The Newcomer/Immigrant Queer & Trans Ontario Youth
Guide" is a resource guide for newcomer, immigrant and
refugee queer youth in Ontario compiled and designed by a number of EXPRESS youth
who applied for a youth initiative
grant from the Laidlaw Foundation to create this very
- "If Only I Knew" is a very exciting initiative
that was done in collaboration with Concordia University in Montreal, where 6
EXPRESS youth who are refugees or refugee claimants
worked on a photography based exhibition using pictures
and words (Photovoice) to tell their story and use it to advocate and gain
support for their cause in Toronto and Montreal.
Click here to see the exhibition
- "Fresh off the Boat" was the first big thing
we produced at EXPRESS.. after 12 weeks of working on the zine,
FOB was launched in a fabulous party and became the first
publication to ever address the issues of newcomer/immigrant
queer youth in Canada.
- "Rock the Boat" is a collaborative initiative with UofT's TeenNet research project for youth engagement. It
provided a number of Express youth the chance to learn about
web design and using the internet as a tool to provide
information and resources for other young queer and trans
newcomers to Canada. Click
to check out the website.
During April and May of 2003, EXPRESS produced
a short video tracing the story of the project through the eyes
and experience of one of its youth. The video "My Name Is Javier"
was a great opportunity for the youth to learn from the experience
of the filmmaker who produced the video, as well as bond together
while getting a sense of pride in the achievement of the project
that received an excellent response.
A camping retreat for the EXPRESS youth
participants outside the city takes place every summer. The youth
see part of the Canadian culture during these trips that some of them have never experienced
It's been 5 years of camping trips so far and
the numbers of youth participants keep growing year after
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge.)
EXPRESS continues to provide newcomer and immigrant
queer youth with a safer space where they can meet others who share
there experiences and feel comfortable expressing themselves and
making friends, as well as gain more knowledge about Canada and
Toronto that will help them build there life in the city.