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Bonnyville’s queer programming

Chanz Boyko of the Bonnyville Friendship Centre has brought 2SLGBTQIA+ programming to the community, and recently developed a presentation on Canada’s queer history that will be presented to The Hive Youth Hub.
Chanz Boyko has created a presentation on Canadian queer history.

BONNYVILLE - Chanz Boyko of the Bonnyville Friendship Centre has brought 2SLGBTQIA+ programming to the community, and recently developed a presentation on Canada’s queer history that will be presented to The Hive Youth Hub. 

Boyko advocates for acceptance, allyship, and education about queer history, and offers programming for both queer and non-queer people. 

“The main program we offer is the adult Drama Queers group on Thursdays. However, I am working on starting a youth specific Drama Queers group on Wednesdays. The youth group will. Be 12-17, while the adult group is 18+. They will each have programming pertaining to their age group,” says Boyko. 

Boyko explains that the current Drama Queers program focuses more on education on past queer issues, understanding the origins of gay rights, and the steps taken that got Canada to this more progressive state of acceptance. 

Boyko says “I believe it’s important to know the history of the queer community so we can move forward.” 

Drama Queers has evolved from being a queer-only space to becoming a gay-straight alliance. “[W]e can bridge the gap between queer and non-queer individuals...I do believe Bonnyville is moving into a more progressive time, where people accept queer people. 

“I was lucky to find out I was gay at a young age because I didn’t need to feel like I had to ‘catch up’. I think our youth in the community need that sense of acceptance, so they don’t try to hide who they are,” says Boyko 

Boyko’s presentation on Canadian queer history highlights how recent and tumultuous Canada’s fight for gay rights has been. Riots, police raids, and protests in the queer community punctuated the 70’s, with same-sex marriage not legalized till 2005. 

The presentation explains the evolution of pride celebrations, and that Canada currently has a top safety rating, ranked 1st in the LGBT+ Danger Index, as well as ranked second in the gay travel index.  

 When asked about his experience in Bonnyville, Boyko replied “I only moved here last year, but I haven’t experienced any hate in Bonnyville. I feel pretty safe.” 

Boyko says cultural awareness can foster allyship “Understanding that queer people have their own culture separate from non-queer people, and accepting these differences, actually brings people closer together.” 

Boyko believes in the power of authenticity, and that if queer people are accepted and can express themselves, it has the opportunity to create more connection, not division. “Once someone accepts who they are, people start to gravitate towards them.” 

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