Ashbourne Affirm Ceremony

I am always fascinated by the various events that I photograph, I love getting into the moment and entering someone else’s world. In this particular case, the issue in question was one I feel quite strongly about – the care of seniors in facilities. My Aunt works in a care home, and I used to volunteer in one, and my husband often works with seniors, so the issues of seniors today do come up for me in conversation on a regular basis.

Keeping Seniors Safe

I have always been an advocate for safe spaces – in my own life I have needed them, and I try to make sure that I support all the safe spaces I can find. No one should feel unsafe. That’s why I was pleased to hear about the initiative that Ashbourne has taken to create a safe space for LGTBQ2+ seniors safe – physically and emotionally – in their residence. This effort has been rewarded with the Ashbourne residence receiving a designation from the United Church of Canada’s Affirm United as an affirming space for senior members of the LGTBQ2+ community. I had the privilege of being there, along with MPs, MLAs, residents of the Ashbourne and their family and friends to celebrate this designation – the first of its kind for a senior’s facility. Myself and the press were also there to capture the event.

It was fitting that we were celebrating a safe space on the day of a massive thunderstorm, with winds so bad that trees were collapsing and power was going out in parts of the city. While the wind was roaring and the rain was coming down in sheets outside, we had a comfortable and warm gathering inside. Also, never let it be said that I don’t show up to work when there’s bad weather – though I later parked the car at my husband’s work and took transit home, it was just too dangerous to drive more that day!

Speaking to the Issues

Each of the honoured guests was pleased to present their thoughts on the creation of a new safe space for seniors. In particular, Randy Boissonnault, the MP for Edmonton-Center and special advisor on LGTBQ2+ issues to the Prime Minister (and someone I’ve had the privilege to work with as a photographer before while at TEDxEdmonton a few years ago)  became emotional in discussing how many seniors, after a life of freedom in Canada to express themselves, have to go back into the closet to remain safe from ridicule or violence from their peers. Linda Duncan MP for Edmonton-Strathcona also spoke to the importance of safe spaces, and other political representatives like Lori Sigurdson and Michael Connolly were present, as well as the representatives for the United Church.

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