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GSA Conferences

A Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA - formerly known as Gay-Straight Alliance) is a student-run club that provides a safe place for students and teachers to meet, talk and educate others about Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual (2SLGBTQIA+) issues.

OK2BME GSA Conference 2024

Queering the Way: Louder & Prouder

On February 13th, OK2BME hosted our 2024 GSA Conference for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth and allies at Bingemans Conference Centre. GSAs in schools across the Waterloo-Region attended the conference. 

“Everyone is welcome” is drastically different from “we built this with you in mind.”

That framing is what makes the GSA Conference for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth across Waterloo Region such a unique and magical space. We filled Bingemans Conference Centre with over 300 students from over 45 schools, packed the day full of 27 workshops, one amazing musical guest and tried to cram as much joy and celebration into 6 hours as possible.

Thanks to our legacy sponsor, RBC for partnering with us again to bring you this exciting and important event! We also want to thank Risolv, GHD Group, Gowling WLG, Maplesoft, Cook Homes, GDI Facility Services, Shari Foster, CFP – IG Wealth Management, and Your Neighbourhood Credit Union (YCNU) for making this day amazing! 

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OK2BME GSA Conference 2024 poster

OK2BME GSA Conference 2023

No Fear to be Queer: Creating Communities of Celebration

On February 16th, OK2BME is hosting our 2023 GSA Conference for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth and allies, and we are so excited to be back in-person at Bingemans Conference Centre. GSAs in schools across the Waterloo-Region are invited to attend the conference, though a limited number of spots are available. 

This year, our theme is No Fear to Be Queer. This theme is meant to capture the importance of creating spaces for celebration, of fearlessly working to be our most authentic selves, and of honouring the communities around us. Through the theme of the conference, we hope to provide tools, activities, discussions and messages that facilitate community-building, self-compassion, and celebration for youth who are part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Thanks to our presenting sponsor, RBC for partnering with us to bring you this exciting and important event!

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OK2BME GSA Conference 2023 poster

OK2BME GSA Conference 2022

Connected by Love: The Threads of Our Community

On February 16th, OK2BME is hosting our GSA Conference 2022 for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth and allies, virtually.

This year, our theme is Connected by Love. The theme is about how our community provides support, nourishment, affirmation, and love. Even in these difficult times where we may not be able to see each other in person, we are all still connected to each other. This year’s GSA Conference is a celebration of the community we are a part of. Through the theme of the conference, we hope to provide tools, activities, discussions and messages that facilitate the growth of self-compassion, authenticity and community for youths a part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

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OK2BME GSA Conference 2022 poster

OK2BME GSA Conference 2021

BEYOUtiful, celebrating self-compassion, authenticity, and embracing uniqueness

On April 9th, OK2BME is hosting our GSA Conference 2021 for LGBTQ2+ youth and Allies, virtually.

This year, our theme is BEYOUtiful. It is about self-compassion, authenticity and embracing uniqueness. With the Covid’s one year mark coming up, we thought it was an appropriate theme as many of us have taken some time to sit with ourselves and reflect on who we are as individuals. Through the theme of the conference, we hope to provide tools, activities, discussions and messages that facilitate the growth of self-compassion, authenticity and embracing individuality for youths a part of the LGBTQ2+ community.

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OK2BME GSA Conference 2021 poster

Camp Queerantine 2020

Our 2020 GSA Conference had to be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, on July 9, 2020 we held a virtual event called Camp Queerantine. 50 people attended the event which included workshops and activities with SPECTRUM, ACCKWA, UW Drag Club, MPP Laura Mae Lindo, Kez Vicario-Robinson, Laila El Mugammar, The Canadian
Clay & Glass Gallery and more!

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Camp Queerantine 2020 poster

Live Proud: 2019 GSA Conference

Our 9th annual GSA Conference took place on February 27, 2019 at Bingemans. Nearly 350 students, educators and volunteers were present. We had 32 different workshops and panels! This was our largest conference yet thanks to our sponsors at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Company of Canada, and a Grow Grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Check out our Facebook Photo Album!

Live Proud: 2019 GSA Conference poster

Take the Leap: GSA Conference 2018

Our 8th annual GSA Conference took place on February 7, 2018. This was the largest conference yet with nearly 300 students and teachers attending. There were 24 different panels and workshops including: Life After High School, Yoga and You, LGBTQ+ Awareness in Sports, Slam It!, The Asexual and Aromatic Spectrum, Healthy Relationships: A Theatrical Experience, and Bodies: From Anatomy to Autonomy. Check out all the details in the conference program. Our keynote speaker was Susan Gapka.

Check out our Facebook photo album!

Take the Leap: GSA Conference 2018 poster

Living Rainbow: GSA Conference 2017

Our 7th annual GSA Conference was held at Bingeman’s.  Our keynote address was by Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser. Workshop and panel topics included: Life After High School with Lilly DaRocha, Adriana Rosselli, Joe Cincinnato, Mindy Jeffries, Stephen Churm, Michael Brown and TK Pritchard; Getting Political with Douglas Bartolomew-Saunders, Catherine Fife, Richard Walsh, Rami Said and John Hill; Yoga for Every Body; Project Uprooted!; YSHAG; Trans Health Matters; Two-Spirit; LGBTQ+ Theatre with Modus Vivendi; The Art of Making a Unicorn; LGBTQ+ Muay Thai Style; The New Mentality; Asexuality; and dance performances by Ill Nana.

Check out our Facebook Photo Albums!

Living Rainbow: GSA Conference 2017 poster

Free Spirits: GSA Conference 2016

2016 marked our sixth annual GSA Conference. To our knowledge, ours is now the longest continuously running GSA conference in Ontario!

Our keynote address was by Rev. Jessica Rodela.  Workshops included Asexuality 101, Leadership in Action, Yoga for Every Body, Being an Ally, Dreams4Teens, Trans Health Matters, Relationships & Communication, LGBTQ+ Theatre and an Interfaith panel discussion.

Free Spirits: GSA Conference 2016 poster

Brave New Voices: GSA Conference 2015

For our fifth anniversary conference we were joined by special guests Mayor of Waterloo, Dave Jaworsky and Miss Oktoberfest, Lindsay Kalbfleisch. Shawn Johnston, event coordinator at the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre, opened the event for us with an acknowledgment of the land and offering of a song. Our keynote address was by slam poet, Beth Murch. Our workshops were hosted by Janice Lee, Spencer Small, Bradley Hamacher, Allisa Scott, a panel of queer elders and the Rainbow Chorus Ensemble.

Topics included: Arts as Activism, Queer Elders, Self-care, Glamorous World of Drag, Coming Out Stories, Fluid Identities, Every Body Belongs and Healthy Relationships.

Check out our Facebook photo album!

Brave New Voices: GSA Conference 2015  poster

Dare to Dream: GSA Conference 2014

Shawn Johnston, event coordinator at the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre, opened the event for us with an acknowledgment of the land and offering of a song. Our keynote address was by Kim Crosby. Our workshops were hosted by Sue Weare, Shelley Secrett, Reena Reddy, Mary Everett, Bradley Hamacher, Shaswn Johnston, Elisha Lim, Alice Maguire, Beth Murch, Kat van Lammeren and Jim Parrott.

Topics included: We’re here! We’re Queer!, Creating Community, No Voice Left Behind, Laugh Away Your Worries, Glamorous World of Drag, A Two-Spirit Story, They is My Pronoun, Trans Students 101, Every Body Belongs, Play with Rhythm and LGBTQ History. We also screened Melissa Sky’s documentary, Rainbow Reflections.

Check out our Facebook photo album!

Dare to Dream: GSA Conference 2014 poster

GSA Conference 2012

Waterloo Region District School Board Executive Superintendent of Education, Mary Lou Mackie, opened the 2012 GSA Conference. Our keynote address was by youth activist, Tori Denby. Our workshops were hosted by Kamilla Riabko, Stacey Jacobs, Spencer Small, Ryan Connell, Alice Maguire, Marla Pender, Loralee Gillis and the Rainbow Chorus Ensemble.

Topics included: Project Acorn Camp, Safer Sex, Authenticity on the Front Lines!, Respect Campaign, LGBTQ OutLoud, Health Issues for LGBTQ Youth, OK2BME Youth Group and Your City, Your Voice. The day was closed by Waterloo Region District School Board Superintendent, Diane DeCoene.

Check out our Facebook photo album!

GSA Conference 2012 poster

GSA Conference 2011

Waterloo Region District School Board Assistant Superintendent of Learning Services, Peter Rubenschuh, opened the 2011 GSA Conference. Our keynote address was by Helen Kennedy, Executive Director of Egale Canada. Our workshops were hosted by Will Rowe, Sue Arai, Melissa Sky, Carrie Greig, Alex Duffy, Ryan Connell and the Rainbow Chorus Ensemble.

Topics included: Trans Positive Schools, Sounds of Change: Spoken Word, Youth Zines, Through a Queer Lens, Stories in Music and the Respect Campaign. The day was closed by Waterloo Region District School Board’s Equity and Inclusion Officer, Gwenyth Le-Phuong.

Check out our Facebook photo album!

GSA Conference 2011 poster

GSA Conference 2010

Waterloo mayor, Brenda Halloran, opened the 2010 GSA Conference. Our keynote address was by Dr. Sky Gilbert, co-founder and artistic director of the Buddies in Bad Times theatre company, and our workshops were hosted by Steve Mock, Will Rowe, Michel Levesque, Andrea Shine and Elaine Graham.

Topics included: Theories of Sexual Orientation, LGBTQ Stereotypes, Trans 101, Queer Youth Comics, Sustaining Your GSA and LGBTQ Spirituality. The day was closed by Waterloo Region District School Board’s Equity and Inclusion Officer, Deepa Ahluwalia.

Check out our Facebook photo album!

GSA Conference 2010 poster

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