Vancouver's MOSAIC offers online support group for trans, non-binary, and gender-diverse newcomers

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      While it’s tough enough for newcomers, immigrants, and refugees to Canada to deal with challenges such as language barriers or finding resources and employment, those who are LGBTQ face additional issues.

      Many also face homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, xenophobia, racism, sexism, misogyny, and other forms of discrimination, whether overt, subtile, or systemic.

      And now the COVID-19 pandemic has added another layer of stress and anxiety on top of all of that.

      That’s why the settlement nonprofit organization MOSAIC has the I Belong program, which helps queer immigrants and newcomers, who are often minorities within minorities.

      Feedback from focus groups held with participants in I Belong raised suggestions that supportive spaces were needed for trans immigrants and refugees.

      I Belong (which continues to provide services online and by phone during the pandemic) now has peer and counselling support groups, and in November, a new group launched: Beyond Borders and Binaries, a peer support group for all trans, non-binary, and gender-diverse newcomers to Canada.

      Rainbow Refugee sponsorship coordinator Norma Lize, who came to Canada from Lebanon, leads and plans this group in which participants can share their stories, information, and resources about adapting to new lives in Canada.

      During the pandemic, the group meets through virtual means on the third Monday of each month, and participants, which have ranged from six to nine people.

      Two counsellors from the Vancouver Association for Survivors of Torture provide support for the group but the meetings aren’t therapy sessions, and participants don’t have to share anything they feel uncomfortable with.

      Anyone interested can join at any time.

      More information can be found under the support groups section on the I Belong webpage at the MOSAIC website.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook. You can also follow the Straight's LGBT coverage on Twitter at @StraightLGBT or on Facebook.