A hot summer for Ottawa queer youth org PTS
Ottawa queer youth org PTS is moving up this summer. The organization is literally moving, recollecting to another location this summer. It’s also growing, in terms of programs and events it has to offer the community, with a giant book give-away planned for the coming weeks.
- Jer’s Vision presents the Summer Bands Bash
- PTS Gala’s popping fundraiser
- Dany Morin hosts LGBT youth on Parliament Hill for Rainbow Day
“I can’t tell you exactly where we’ll be moving,” said Claudia Van den Heuvel, Executive Director at PTS. “We’re down to three choices. All in Centretown.” The new building will have proper accessibility and amenities and the exact location will be announced in early July. Van den Heuvel expects the move to happen in July or August.
The organization will also be getting a much-needed face-lift. “We know our old website is a piece of shit,” said Van den Heuvel. “[The new one] will be user-driven and it will include a resource directory and a calendar of events.” Other people and organizations will be welcome to post their events — so long as it’s legal, PTS will gladly share and build a one-stop shop website for Ottawa’s queer community.
It will be launched on June 26th at the queer youth org’s AGM. This year’s general meeting will probably have a lot to celebrate, least of all PTS’ new source of funding, the United Way. It’s allowed the organization to grow and introduce new programs.
One of three staff members, Kayla Miller supervises the volunteer orientation process. She also creates and manages programs for PTS.
“Depending on when we move, we’ll have an open house either in August or September,” she explains. “Pride is between August 17 to 27, [so if we move] during pride, we will more likely have the open house in September.”
PTS will be present at the parade and offer body painting to the public. But that’s not what Miller is most looking forward to this summer: “Starting on May 29, our newest group Qpoc-it is for queer people of colour,” she says. “It’s a discussion group to talk about experiences around different intersections of oppression and how that impacts and relates to discrimination based on skin colour.”
The group has seen the light of day several times before, each time it dwindling away due to low participation. Demand for it is back, and Miller is excited at the prospect. She is also very proud about PTS’ new counselling program. “It’s a sliding-scale fee based program,” she says. “Social workers come on location. They’re kind and they want to give back to the community.”
The LGBTQ social workers do the work pro-bono, rotating shifts and working flexible hours. “Right now counselling is on Mondays from 5 to 8 p.m.,” says Miller. “Otherwise, it’s appointment based. People can call and ask to be put on the list for counselling or they can email firstname.lastname@example.org”.
The momentum is on high this year. In the near future, we can expect two new social programs: movie night once a month and a gaming-fitness program with Xbox Connect.
From the perspective of Kiel Harris (banner photo), long-time volunteer at PTS, the best thing to look out for this summer is the Men’s (discussion) Group, from 7-9 p.m., the first Tuesday and third Thursday of every month. “It’s men-specific and the discussion are funny,” he says. “A topic is given and the discussion develops over the course of the meeting. The facilitator is really good at directing and moving things forward.” Harris says it’s a friendly and relaxed atmosphere where it’s “easy to talk and listen.” He learns from older men’s experiences. “Being my age, I don’t fully understand everything, it’s nice to learn from others.”
Andrew Primeau, the volunteer librarian had an entirely different take on what’s hot this summer at PTS. “I’m excited for the fire sale,” he says, eyes beaming. “There will be music. We’re cutting 2,000 to 3,000 books that are outdated and they’ll be free.”
PTS’ library, which is open every night from Monday to Friday from 5-9 p.m., is the largest and oldest queer library in Canada. In fact, says Primeau, “It is the second largest in North America, after San Francisco.” With about 8,000 books, anthologies, biographies and even some DVDs and VHS tapes, the space it feels and smells like memory and history.
Primeau recommends the Alex Sanchez Rainbow Boys series for summer reader. “He’s a social worker and novelist,” he explains. “I highly recommend his work. It’s smart, the storytelling is captivating.”
PTS currently hold seven discussion groups: Pink Triangle Youth (PTY), Men’s Group, Women’s Night, Biamore, Gender Quest, Qpoc-it and Youth 4 Youth. They are all held between 7-9 p.m. except for the Youth 4 Youth, which is from 5-7 p.m. Days and frequency vary, for more information contact Kayla Miller, Volunteer and Programs Coordinator at 613 563-4818.
It looks like the staff and volunteers at PTS will have their hands full this summer. That’s the cost and glory of organizational growth and the queer community in Ottawa is all the better for it.
PTS (formerly Pink Triangle Services)
613 563-4818, email@example.com
Photos by Sanita Fejzic for 2B