“The Struggle for Equality” Exhibit at UNBSJ

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On Thursday, March 30, the “Struggle for Equality” exhibit was launched in the Hans W. Klohn Commons at UNBSJ.

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What is it?

The exhibit is an archival exhibit, which features informative panels, historical overviews, and images with descriptions to guide viewers through key moments in the fight for legal protections for lesbian, gay, and bisexual New Brunswickers. 

Gemma Marr and Meredith J. Batt, co-organizers of the event, further explain this exhibit,

“The exhibit includes information about the New Brunswick Coalition for Human Rights Reform (NBCHRR), which was active from 1987-1992 and played a pivotal role in fighting for protections and change.” 

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Background Information:

Gemma Marr and Meredith J. Batt described what went into forming this event,

“The exhibit was created in the summer of 2022 to mark the 30th anniversary of the amendment of the provincial human code to include sexual orientation, which occurred in 1992.” 

It was only in 2017 that the legislation was extended to trans and gender-diverse people in New Brunswick. 

This exhibit was created by the Queer Heritage Initiative of New Brunswick (QHINB), a 2SLGBTQIA+ non-profit organization that aims to preserve the queer history of groups and individuals in New Brunswick through collecting documents, oral histories, and ephemera. 

Gemma Marr and Meredith J. Batt continued, “The QHINB collection is held at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick and contains the collection of the activist group the Coalition for Human Rights Reform. It was through the use of this material that this exhibit was created.”

Wolfgang Düchtel/The Baron

Where to find it:

The exhibit is located on the second floor of the Hans W. Klohn Commons. The archives and information panels are meant to be viewed in the following order:

  1. Queer Rights are Human Rights: this section provides readers with a brief history of the NBCHRR and celebrates the 30th anniversary of the amendment of the provincial human code to include sexual orientation.
  2. The New Brunswick Coalition for Human Rights Reform: this next section provides readers with background knowledge on the influential group known as FLAG, or Fredericton lesbians and gays. 
  3. Human Rights for Gay New Brunswickers: this section explains to readers how the amendment was formed and what went into the passing of Bill C-33, the Canadian Human Rights Act.
  4. 30 Years Later: this final section delves into the struggles faced by queer New Brunswickers today and touches on topics such as conversion therapy.

The event:

The event kicked off with short talks from the event organizers and members of the UNBSJ 2SLGBTQIA+ club, True Colours.

Wolfgang Düchtel/The Baron

The speeches commenced with many thanks to all of the staff and students who volunteered to help organize the event as well as help display the exhibit.

Gemma Marr made the following comment to commence the event,

“This is a very important exhibit, and it is very important to have here at an educational institution. Histories of queer sexuality in New Brunswick are often overlooked. So, to have it in a space where students and the public can view it, read it, talk about it, and interact with it is really important.”

Next, Meredith Batt made a moving speech addressing trans-exclusion and how the exhibit is still relevant today,

“In preparing for this event, we realized how timely for what’s going on. For example, in New Brunswick the protests in Moncton against drag story time where activists are standing up.”

Next Jenna Irish, the treasurer of UNBSJ’s True Colours Club, spoke about the significance of queer history saying, “history is so vital to everything we do, especially queer history. Queer history is full of perseverance, and fierce love, and it isn’t formed out of strife, it is formed out of hope and attempting to create something greater for yourself.”

Wolfgang Düchtel/The Baron

Jenna also mentioned the True Colours Club’s plans to create more gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus so keep an eye out for more updates on that project!

Finally, Chelsea Nightingale from Chroma NB explained a bit about their organization, “we are an organization that educates for the 2SLGBTQIA+ here in the Saint John region.” Chelsea continued to list some of Chroma’s current projects such as the Rainbow Connections where “rainbow folks” have a safe space where they can make friends and can express themselves through art and craft making. You can read more about Chroma and their projects on their website: Projects – Chroma NB 

After the speeches concluded, attendees were invited to enjoy snacks and beverages while viewing the exhibit.

Wolfgang Düchtel/The Baron

After viewing the exhibit, a UNBSJ student expressed their thoughts saying, “it’s really great that there’s an event like this at UNBSJ and that it’s up in the commons for everyone to see.”

Additional notes

The exhibit will be up for a few months and currently has no close date.

Wolfgang Düchtel/The Baron

Make sure to stop by the commons before the end of the semester to check out this amazing and informative exhibit!

Kylie is a first year Arts student who plans on majoring in English. She aspires to work in the editing and publishing industry one day. She also spends time with kids when she works part time at a daycare. Most days when Kylie's not studying, she can be found reading, baking, drinking coffe, or talking about her three dogs. She's very passionate about education, human rights, and literature.