Rainbow Registered: QEII Foundation working to ensure 2SLGBTQI+ community feels safe, welcomed and accepted

Garry Dart, prideHealth co-ordinator

PHOTO CAPTION: The QEII Foundation supports programs for 2SLGBTQI+ communities, like prideHealth’s pronoun campaign, an educational and awareness campaign to increase 2SLGBTQI+ clients’ and patients’ comfort, care and safety in healthcare settings. prideHealth co-ordinator Garry Dart works to improve access to safe, coordinated, comprehensive primary health care for 2SLGBTQI+ communities and is grateful for funds received from QEII Foundation Comfort & Care grants. PHOTO CREDIT: QEII Foundation

The QEII Foundation was recently designated a Rainbow Registered organization through Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC).

The Foundation is one of 50 businesses and organizations in Nova Scotia — and only 306 nationwide — to receive the designation.

“We’re excited to share that we’re now part of this important program,” says Kris Lane, Manager of Strategic Initiatives at the QEII Foundation. “The Foundation is a values-based organization, and we want to ensure an inclusive experience for everyone.”

The Rainbow Registered program is a national accreditation for businesses and organizations that meet a stringent set of standards to ensure the 2SLGBTQI+ community feels safe, welcomed and accepted.

The Foundation’s application was reviewed on four pillars: policies and practices, training, commitment to inclusive leadership, and culture of inclusivity.

The QEII Foundation raises funds to advance health care through the QEII Health Sciences Centre. An organization that leads with heart, their day-to-day operations are guided by policies and practices that demonstrate their commitment to respectful and equal treatment of staff and volunteers.

The Foundation staff is on a training journey, focused on a variety of relevant topics that included 2SLGBTQI+ concerns and challenges.

“Through group sessions and self-directed learning, our team is committed to learning — and often unlearning — topics related to equity, diversity and inclusion,” says Kris. “It is indeed a journey, with no end point, and our staff understands the importance of all perspectives and lived experiences.”

The QEII Foundation continues to invest in inclusive practices. In conjunction with Nova Scotia Health and IWK Pride Network, prideHealth and Nova Scotia Health, the QEII Foundation sponsored an Affirming Care Conference engaging the 2SLGBTQI+ communities and healthcare professionals. This three-day conference explored topics related to general information about 2SLGBTQI+ populations, pronouns, creating safter spaces of belonging, the Wabanaki Two Spirit Alliance, and 2SLGBTQI+ Immigrants and Refugees.

In addition to supporting important education events for healthcare teams, the Foundation provides grants to help healthcare teams improve care for patients. Through a Comfort and Care grant, prideHealth was able to launch a campaign around pronoun awareness and education to increase 2SLGBTQI+ clients' and patients' care and safety throughout Nova Scotia Health.

Nearly 140 packages were distributed throughout the QEII. These packages included colourful informational stickers and posters about pronouns, including gender-neutral Mi’kmaq and French pronouns. The campaign aimed to help 2SLGBTQI+ people feel seen, increase patient comfort in coming out to their providers and create safer spaces of belonging through inclusivity and care. This goes a long way in ensuring these patients receive appropriate care.

The Foundation is also committed to creating a more inclusive, accessible healthcare system through its annual Diversity in Health Care Bursary program.

Since 2018, the Foundation has awarded 269 bursaries — a total of $329,000 — to students from marginalized communities who are studying in a healthcare field. On average, about 20 per cent of the annual applications come from students who identify as 2SLGBTQI+.

“Each year we hear from the recipients how important these bursaries are to them. Not only from a financial perspective, but many students say they feel validated, seen, and celebrated for their identities,” says Kris.

With the bursary program in place for several years, past recipients have now entered the workforce, increasing the diversity of healthcare teams, many of whom are working on improving access and care.

Committed to authentic inclusion through philanthropy and advancing health care through the QEII, the QEII Foundation holds a strong belief that they can effectively use their collective experiences and perspectives to positively influence health care in Nova Scotia.