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Pride 2021 Feature: Reviving the University of Regina Queer Initiative

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: June 16, 2021 2:00 p.m.

URQI has been supporting 2SLGBTQIAP+ faculty and staff
URQI has been supporting 2SLGBTQIAP+ faculty and staff Credit: URQI logo

The University of Regina Queer Initiative (URQI) has been supporting 2SLGBTQIAP+ faculty and staff since it was founded in 2007. At that time, Dr. Allan Cahoon, the former Vice-President, Research and International, and Dr. Steven McClatchey the former Associate Vice-President, Academic provided URQI with funds to begin the URQI trust fund. This trust fund has enabled URQI to fund activities, programs, and research projects on campus that support the 2SLGBTQIAP+ community. 

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Dr. Valerie Korinek kicked off the “Out on
the Prairie” speaker series
Credit: URQI Instagram (@urqi4all)

After several years of being less active, Dr. Randal Rogers, an Associate Professor with Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance and the Chair of URQI, began to have discussions with others on campus and together, they decided to revive URQI. The group relaunched in the summer of 2020, and has now grown to approximately 40 members. Rogers sees the importance of URQI on campus, not only to serve the 2SLGBTQIAP+ community, but to assist with queer issues around politics, life, and representation. 

“When I was hired in 2004, I came here from Montreal and I was nervous about coming to a smaller place. That’s the experience that many people have when coming here. But, the arts community here is so vital and energized, it is so supported and well attended. If you have the community and you put your mind to something, you can really do things at this here,” says Rogers. “I’ve always thought about the university as the little engine that could. We are a smaller university, but we’ve got lots of interesting things happening. Being a part of that is terrific.” 

Part of URQI’s relaunch was rebranding their speaker series to “Out on the Prairie.” Dr. Valerie Korinek was the first presenter in the series. Korinek is a Professor and Vice Dean of Faculty Relations with the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan and author of Prairie Fairies: A History of Queer Communities and People in Western Canada, 1930 – 1985. Rogers says Korinek’s presentation was a terrific launch presentation for the speaker series. 

URQI is currently doing a call for participants for the next “Out on the Prairie” speaker series. They plan to have one presentation per month, consisting of a mixture of in-person and virtual events. 

While URQI is primarily an organization for faculty and staff at the University of Regina, they also partner with other groups and faculties on campus to reach students and community members as well. 

“We want to continue to increase our presence on campus to enhance the experiences of faculty and staff at the University of Regina and to develop programs of use to students,” says Rogers. “We are a faculty and staff organization, and by partnering with organizations such as UR Pride, we can work together to build those bridges between our organizations.” 

This past winter, URQI partnered with UR Pride and the Imperial Court of Regina to raise money for a sock drive. Together the organizations raised $2,215 to purchase socks for individuals who were facing housing challenges or who were homeless. They are looking at partnering again next year, either to do another sock drive or raise funds to put together personal care kits. 

URQI is also working with UR Pride and the Department of Gender, Religion, and Critical Studies to compile a list of classes for and about 2SLGBTQIAP+ people and cultures. Their end goal is for these classes to be searchable in the University of Regina class schedule. In conjunction with this, this same group is also working on creating a minor in the area of 2SLGBTQIAP+ identities and cultures (exact name TBD). 

Recently the Humanities Research Institute (HRI), in partnership with URQI, announced the award recipients for micro grants related to 2SLGBTQIAP+ and EDI, sponsored by the VP (Research), Dr. Kathy McNutt. These grants are designed to enable researchers to develop projects that enhance Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the University of Regina and that develop knowledge regarding 2SLGBTQIAP+ inclusivity in research, teaching, administration, policy, and decision-making.   

Dr. Claire Carter is an Associate Professor with the Department of Gender, Religion and Critical Studies and one of the micro-grant recipients. Carter will work with her research team, consisting of Caitlin Janzen (University of Regina), Risa Payant (Common Weal Community Arts), and Fran Gilboy and Heather Cameron (FadaDance Troupe), on their project Community Movement: Trans and Queer Body Mapping Workshops. 

Their project will work with transgender, genderqueer, and/or non-binary community leaders to develop community body mapping workshops. Body mapping is a form of art and narrative practice that affirms individuals view and experiences of their bodies, challenging negative and normative body image ideals. 

“I had heard of body mapping a few years ago and have been thinking of ways to incorporate it into my current dance research, in partnership with Common Weal Community Arts and dance instructors with FadaDance Troupe funded by a SSHRC Connections Grant,” says Carter. “This HRI/URQI micro grant seemed [to be] an opportune first step to reach out to community leaders, learn more about body mapping, and develop a community led workshop.” 

URQI wishes everyone Happy Pride! Anyone interested in finding out more information about URQI’s upcoming events, programs, and initiatives can follow them on Instagram and Twitter @urqi4all or email at urqi@uregina.ca. 

The University of Regina has committed to creating a healthy campus community and learning environment in its 2020-25 strategic plan All Our Relations, or kahkiyaw kiwȃhkomȃkȃninawak in Cree.

Well-being and Belonging is one of the five areas of focus in the strategic plan, and includes objectives related to strengthening the University’s commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Healthy Living, and Mental Health Literacy and Research. This feature is a part of the University of Regina’s participation and support of Pride Month in June. 

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