November 20th – Transgender Day of Remembrance

trans-day_web_eNovember 20th is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. It is observed around the world in memory of the transgender and transsexual persons who face violence, abuse and discrimination.

In a 2011 report from EAGLE Canada, trans students reported the highest rates of harassment among Canadian school aged children. Seventy four percent reported verbal harassment, 49% reported sexual harassment, and 37% reported physical harassment.

According to a 2012 report from Ontario, 43% of Trans people have attempted suicide at least once in their lives.

Trans people are particularly vulnerable to harassment, exclusion and extreme violence on a daily basis, on and off the job.

It is our job as a union to stand up for all human rights and for dignity and security for all people. The struggle for respect for Trans people is part of that effort.

Marle Roberts

Kristi Nelson’s story

KristieMy name is Kristi Nelson and I am the 2009 recipient of the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) award for a Workplace Learner. I have worked for the City of Grande Prairie for the past 16 years, and on my learning journey, they have supported me the entire way.

I was a teenage mother at age 16 and was told by one of my instructors in grade 10 that “my kind did not belong in her classroom”. I dropped out of high school right then and decided I was going to work to support my soon to be new addition to my life, my daughter Mykayla. I realized soon after that my lack of education was not allowing me to do the things I wanted to, career wise. Determined to prove to that instructor that “my kind” did belong, I decided to return to upgrading at my local college. I worked extremely hard and I ended up graduating at the same time that my high school class graduated in 1996 – after being out of school for almost a year.

I was working at the City as a summer student, and continued to attend college as a Bachelor of Arts student until 1999, while I was pregnant with my second child, my son Keiran. I returned to work at the City when he was 6 months old. At the time, I was not a full time employee and I did not want to lose my position. The City of Grande Prairie was a great organization, and could help me achieve the things I wanted to achieve by getting on full time with them. I worked for the Parks Department until 2002, and then was awarded a full-time position in the Fleet Department as a parts pick-up and delivery person.

In 2006, I went to school to become a certified red sealed journeyman parts woman. I graduated from parts school in 2009. I continued to work in that trade until 2010. Then I decided that my passion was health and safety in the workplace. I worked in Human Resources with the City of Grande Prairie as a Health and Safety Coordinator.

I am currently at the University of Alberta taking online, in class and weekend courses to complete the Occupational Health and Safety Certificate program. I am working as a Community Enhancement Facilitator with Crime Prevention at the City of Grande Prairie.

My learning journey is far from over, as I am a believer that “knowledge is power” – Nelson Mandella, and I will be sure to continue learning for life.