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A program for all newcomer, immigrant, and refugee LGBTQ+ youth

What is EXPRESS?

EXPRESS is a program that provides support for young people between 16 and 29 years old  who are immigrants, newcomers, refugees, refugee claimants, or non-status in Canada who also identify as part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ+) communities. Most of the participants are young people coming from countries and/or cultures where it's not safe, legal or easy to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ+).

How can I participate?

Attend the weekly meetings!

EXPRESS includes a weekly meeting on Tuesdays from 6pm to 8pm in downtown Toronto at 333 Sherbourne Street, 2nd floor (as part of Sherbourne Health Centre). During the meeting, we are able to make new friends, enjoy pizza, find out information and resources, and have a fun time!

Join the internet group mailing list, Facebook page, or private Facebook group!

Aside from meeting in person, EXPRESS youth also interact with each other on the yahoo group mailing list, Facebook page or the private Facebook page. We usually post information about upcoming activities, relevant news, and anything else that the group is interested in. To get started, contact  Aamer at 416-324-5080 or


Join a one time project/activity during the year!

Throughout the year, we run one time activities (movie nights, fieldtrips, camping) that you are welcome to participate in. We also do partnerships with other organizations where you can do fun things like ski trips, canoeing, and lots more. 

Meet for one-on-one support!

Sometimes you may want to just meet for a one-on-one meeting and talk about what is going on in your life and get some answers. You are always welcome to contact Aamer and find a time to meet that works for you. Aamer can be reached at 416-324-5080 or

What kind of support can I expect?

Getting support around your refugee claim: Many 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 weekly meetings.

Getting connected to Toronto’s LGBTQ+ communities: You will find a lot of good information and links to make new friends, find out about other groups in Toronto, and learn more about the LGBTQ+ communities.

Finding other LGBTQ+ youth positive programs and services in Toronto: You will get connect to some other cool programs out there such as mentoring, arts and media, sports, social support, youth of color projects, and much more.

Anything else that you need. If we don’t have the answer, we will try to connect you to someone who does.

Who is involved in running EXPRESS?

EXPRESS is a program of Supporting Our Youth at Sherbourne Health Centre.

The weekly group is run by a team of friendly people, including:

Premal Laxman is a dynamic placement student at Supporting Our Youth and is a student at the Social Service Worker program at George Brown College.

Chi Ching Hui is a dedicated volunteer for the EXPRESS program. He initially got involved with EXPRESS in 2002 as one of the first youth participants for the group.

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

Aamer Esmail is the Newcomer Community Engagement Coordinator at Sherbourne Health Centre. Aamer started his involvement in EXPRESS as a youth participant in 2003.

Phone - 416 324 5080
E-mail - aesmail (at) sherbourne (dot) on (dot) ca


  • "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 important project.



The Newcomer/Immigrant Queer & Trans Ontario Youth Guide is here...
To get free copies contact Aamer at:
or 416-324-5080


  • "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.
  • 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 before.
    It's been 5 years of camping trips so far and the numbers of youth participants keep growing year after year.

    (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.




Click to enlarge

Alphabet Soup
Bill 7 Award
Fruit Loopz
Pink Ink
Pride Prom
Trans_Fusion Crew
Alphabet Soup