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    Queer support launched at Queen’s

    Queen’s University and the Faculty of Arts and Science has officially announced the formation of a new Employee Resource Group (ERG) designed to create a more inclusive and supportive workplace for LGTBQ2S+ employees.

    The Queen’s University Association for Queer Employees (QUAQE) was recently approved for funding as an ERG by the Office of the Provost. 

    The Queen’s University Association for Queer Employees (QUAQE) was recently approved for funding as an ERG by the Office of the Provost. These ERGs help create an inclusive workplace by giving equity-seeking groups a formal structure to support their unique needs. Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion), in partnership with Human Resources (HR) and the Human Rights and Equity Office (HREO), provides support for ERGs working to build and support communities for equity-seeking groups on campus.

    QUAQE was first created around 2005 when the local queer community organization (KLGBTA) had recently dissolved and employees at Queen’s were looking for an opportunity to create a safe space for queer staff and faculty to come together, advocate, socialize, and support one another.

    “When I started at Queen’s in 2017 ERGs were just starting to become big in the corporate sector, and Queen’s was the first to have an ERG in the postsecondary sector with Queen’s Women’s Network,” says Sarah Bunting, QUAQE organizing committee member and Academic Advisor and Assistant Academic Consideration Coordinator within the Faculty of Arts and Science.  “This ERG is important in many ways. First, it will rejuvenate the queer community at Queen’s. Because being queer is oftentimes invisible, we commonly share spaces with other queer people without realizing it. This is why the social aspect is so important. It is important for us to connect with each other as a community and build visibility so we know who we can reach out to for support and who our allies on campus are.”

    She further explained that: “Another key reason this group is important is to develop opportunities for professional development, educational seminars, etc., that are targeted directly at the needs of our community. Bringing our voices together can help us build some of these resources, as well as use our collective voice to ask for resources required from Queen’s as an institution.”

    QUAQE will provide a number of vital services on campus including:

    • Supplying information and resources for LGBTQ2S+ employees of Queen’s at varying career and queer stages (new employees, newly queer/coming out employees, long-term employees, past employees). 
    • Developing a community from which to organize and advocate.
    • Building a robust social and supportive community for queer employees at Queen’s which will act as a recruitment and retention strategy. 
    • Partnering with other ERG’s through mentorship activities for career advancement, networking, and community supports (recognizing our intersectionality as employees).
    • Provide professional development support to LGTBQ2S+ employees through guest speakers, networking, and skills.

    With the annual general meeting of QUAQE set for April 15th at 3pm, the executive committee already has several planned activities for the coming year including social opportunities within COVID-19 guidelines, educational opportunities, mentorship, and advocacy.

    “Being part of QUAQE has been a real lifeline throughout the pandemic, with regular happy hours, physically-distanced hikes, and community resources,” says Mark Richardson, Education and Outreach Officer, McDonald Institute and a member of QUAQE’s organizing committee. “I highly recommend any queer employee to join, to be part of this community, to get involved, and have access to the various resources that are shared across the ERG.”

    QUAQE draws participation from staff, student employees, and faculty members from a variety of faculties, schools, and research centres across campus. The newly-formed group is also looking for volunteers to join the organizing committee.

    “The formation of QUAQE has been an exciting process,” says Alexandra Pedersen, Faculty of Arts and Science Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Indigeneity Implementation Committee. “Not only have we strengthened connections across campus amongst queer employees, but we've also built relationships to collaborate with other ERG's for mutual opportunities.”

    For information on how to join the new QUAQE ERG, please contact them at quaqe@queensu.ca.

    The Employee Resource Groups initiative was developed as a way to promote the career development of equity-seeking groups on campus. The first group, Queen’s Women’s Network – previously known as Young Women at Queen’s – was launched in 2015 and continues to play an important role at the university. A second group – Women in Science Queen’s (WiSQ) – was formed in 2019.