›› Lizz Brooks & Shae Zamardi

Creating equitable spaces for diverse communities, such as people of colour, 2SLGBTQ+, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups is a conversation that has been increasing in frequency these last few years. The more society sees of these conversations about cultural safety, the more we see individuals creating their own spaces. What does this look like? It looks like having comedy shows with all 2SLGBTQ+ comedians. Maybe it’s support groups for only Indigenous individuals. Or perhaps it’s public spaces like gyms and movie theatres hosting days or nights throughout the year for people of colour exclusively to use their facilities.

Depending on one’s experiences and perspectives, these spaces may take a bit of time to understand. Why do we need these spaces when “everyone should be treated equally?” Even in a perfect world, I believe that these spaces would exist. In reality, when we have spaces intended for a specific diverse community that also welcomes guests, such as gay bars or cultural events, there may be times when extra protocols are needed. In spaces such as these, ­individuals are often attending as guests. However, it is still common to see those guests take up space when the event is intended to honour a specific community.

For many Indigenous individuals, our spaces are sacred and opportunities for us to connect, listen, and exist together with our full being. We are able to exist as our ­authentic selves without needing to be concerned for our safety or whether our intention will be misinterpreted. When we gather with our people, there is a shared understanding of who we are as individuals and the complex dynamics that our people experience.

Having identity-specific gatherings is about creating the energy to just exist without feeling the need to be on display for others or without having to explain ourselves. It provides us with time to ­connect with our community—whichever community that may be—when we may otherwise not be able to. We have a chance to genuinely be us.