Learn About PFLAG Canada

About Us

PFLAG Canada is a national charitable organization, founded by parents who wished to help themselves and their family members understand and accept their non-heterosexual children. The "coming-out" process can be a critical time for families. When the adjustment period is particularly long or painful, relationships can become permanently damaged, resulting in a lifetime of emotional scars. People cannot always rise above the challenge of accepting themselves or their family member, and the results can be devastating, even fatal. We support these families through today, and give them hope for a better tomorrow.

Mission

PFLAG Canada is a national voice that speaks for a more accepting Canadian society by providing support, education and resources on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Through our PFLAG Canada Chapter and Contact network, we actively assist in the recognition and growth of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, intersex, queer and questioning persons and their families and friends, within their diverse cultures and societies.

Vision

PFLAG Canada is a nationally recognized presence with a highly effective network of people and resources focused on supporting and educating Canadians on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Board of Directors

National Executive

Stephen Hartley

Stephen Hartley

President & Director Region 3

 

president@pflagcanada.ca

Bev Belanger

Bev Belanger

Secretary

 

secretary@pflagcanada.ca

Julie van Baarsen

Julie van Baarsen

Treasurer

 

treasurer@pflagcanada.ca

Region 3 - Ontario North

Stephen Hartley

Stephen Hartley

President & Director Region 3

 

president@pflagcanada.ca

Region 4 - Ontario South

Eric Cashmore

Eric Cashmore

Director Region 4

 

Region 5 - Quebec

Philip Laurin

Philip Laurin

Director Region 5

 

region5a@pflagcanada.ca

Region 6 - Atlantic Region

Philip Laurin

Philip Laurin

Director Region 5

 

region5a@pflagcanada.ca

Directors-at-Large

Mallory Clyne

Mallory Clyne

 

Francine Proulx-Kenzle

Francine Proulx-Kenzle

Past President

 

fproulxkenzle@gmail.com

Carlos Wilson

Carlos Wilson

 

History of PFLAG

Born in the USA

In 1972, Morton Manford was physically attacked at a gay rights demonstration in New York. Morty?s parents, Jeanne and Jules Manford, saw the attack in a local newscast and witnessed the failure of the police to intervene. Their outrage turned them into activists.

Two months later, Jeanne Manford marched with Morty in New York?s Pride Parade carrying a sign that read "Parents of Gays: Unite in Support for Our Children." Manford later recounted, "As we marched the parade route, so many people came up and hugged me and cried and talked about their own parents." After the parade was over, Manford continued to receive phone calls from gay men and lesbians wanting her to speak with their parents, as well as from parents wanting to share their stories with her. In response to this obvious need, Jeanne Manford started a local support group.

New York City Parents of Gays held its first meeting in March 1973. Nearly 20 people gathered in a Methodist church in Greenwich Village to share their stories and support each other. This meeting was the start of the PFLAG movement in North America.

PFLAG in Canada

In Toronto, parents of gay men and lesbians began meeting in the late 1970s under the name POG (Parents Of Gays). In 1979, Rev. Brent Hawkes and the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto brought Betty Fairchild, co-author of Now That You Know, to Toronto to meet with and assist POG. Fairchild stayed with parent June Tattle, who was quite active in the group.

In April and August of 1981, Chatelaine magazine included contact information for POG in two articles, one on self-help and the other on gay men, lesbians and families. After reading these articles, Anne Rutledge of Mississauga contacted Tattle. In October, a meeting was held at Tattle?s home and POG was amalgamated with another group, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (FFLAG), started by Pauline Martin and her son Russell. The meeting participants chose a new name, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (Parents FLAG). According to Anne Rutledge, they were unaware of the federation forming in the United States under the same name.

Rutledge was also involved with Gay Equality Mississauga (GEM), becoming director in 1982. In that same year, the Parents FLAG group in Toronto split, and Rutledge was listed in The Body Politic as being involved with Parents of Gays Mississauga. In 1984, two important media breakthroughs occurred. On February 14, Rutledge, along with her son John and Karen Kaffco, was on the Tom Cherington TV show in Hamilton and gave out her phone number on the air, getting a strong response. Then in September, Chatelaine requested a listing for another self-help article. At about this time, Rutledge?s husband was transferred to Goderich, so Rutledge asked Mary Jones of Brampton if Jones would allow her own contact information to be listed instead. With the encouragement of her lesbian daughter, Jones agreed to have her name, address and phone number listed in Chatelaine under the name Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (Parents FLAG) Toronto/Mississauga/Brampton.

The Chatelaine article was published in January, 1985. Fourteen months later, Parents FLAG Toronto/Mississauga/Brampton held its first meeting in Brampton at the home of Mary Jones and her husband Laurence ("Laurie"). This Chapter remained active until 1993, when it was renamed PFLAG Brampton/Mississauga. Meanwhile, other Chapters had formed in Ontario: one in North Toronto in 1991 (later renamed as PFLAG Toronto), another in Quinte (Belleville) in 1992 and a third in Guelph/Kitchener/Waterloo in 1993. Outside of Ontario, PFLAG Vancouver was formed in 1989, PFLAG Winnipeg in 1992 and PFLAG Prince George (BC) in 1993. The first PFLAG Chapter in Atlantic Canada was PFLAG Halifax, formed in 1994.

(Written using information from http://community.pflag.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.phpx?pid=267&srcid=191 for PFLAG?s origins in the United States and from http://www.pflagcanada.ca/chapters/Toronto/html/history.htm and records provided by Mary and Laurie Jones, Anne Rutledge and Eldon Hay for PFLAG?s origins in Canada.)

New Growth: 21st Century

As PFLAG Chapters across Canada moved into the 21st century, two things became apparent. One, there was a need for a national hub to support, strengthen and spread the existing volunteer network; and two, PFLAG groups needed to broaden their scope to meet new issues that were arising with regards to gender identity and sexual orientation. A name referring specifically to "Lesbians and Gays" could be seen as excluding people who identify by other terms, such as bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, intersex, or queer, or people who are still questioning their gender identity and/or sexual orientation.

On February 1, 2003, at a meeting held in Toronto, PFLAG Canada was formally created as an organization that would provide a national voice and act as a clearinghouse for information, peer counseling and public education. The name "Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays" was dropped, so that PFLAG Canada was no longer an acronym but simply a name in itself. PFLAG Canada was incorporated as a federal corporation on March 25, 2004, and was registered as a charity by the Canada Revenue Agency on January 13, 2005.

On June 12, 2005, PFLAG Canada's Board of Directors adopted the policy that the names of all Chapters and Contacts would henceforth begin with "PFLAG Canada," as for example, "PFLAG Canada - Saint John NB." This change was undertaken in order to better express the Canadian nature of the organization.

As of January 2009, PFLAG Canada has more than 70 Chapters and Contacts across Canada, with representation in nine Canadian provinces. Throughout this period of growth, PFLAG Canada has not lost its connection to its roots. It was born of a need by parents to help themselves and family members deal with, understand, and accept their non-heterosexual children and the new world they are thrust into when their children "come-out." Today, PFLAG Canada is the only national grassroots organization that deals with sexual orientation and gender identity issues from a family perspective, providing support, education and resources. We rely on our network of compassionate volunteers across Canada to open their hearts and homes, give freely of their time and be there to listen to people in their time of crisis.

Legal

Information on this site was written by the staff and volunteers of PFLAG Canada Inc. Our comments and opinions are to be taken as unqualified and unsubstantiated thoughts and ideas. We are neither medical nor mental healthcare professionals. As such, our material is not intended to replace the advice or treatment of a medical or mental healthcare provider. Our information is based on personal experience, direct contact with people who are affected by sexual and gender diversity, and ongoing literary research into the most recent trends and scientific theories concerning human sexuality. It is our desire to keep this information current, however as a volunteer organization our resources are limited and some information may become outdated. If you notice statements that contradict current scientific or scholarly research, we ask that you contact us with your comments and a link to the appropriate information.

Our material includes hyperlinks for easy access to useful information available on other websites. Clicking on these links will open an external browser. PFLAG Canada Inc. cannot assume responsibility for the privacy practices or content of these websites.

The materials displayed on www.pflagcanada.ca, including the PFLAG Canada and Communities Encourage logos, are the property of PFLAG Canada Inc.

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© PFLAG Canada, 2009