About Us

The Ottawa Senior Pride Network (OSPN) began in 2008 at Centretown Community Health Centre (CCHC). CCHC has a long history of supporting queer health in the city. At first, OSPN held meetings with a variety of groups that support or serve seniors. The idea was to talk about how they could help, or work with, our community better. Then, in 2010, with a grant from the New Horizons Program from the Federal Government and a lot of support from CCHC, OSPN held a large community event, Taking LGBT Aging Out of the Closet.

Many people volunteered to help OSPN reach out to isolated seniors and get them connected to community. We built educational programs to work with health care and social service agencies. Some volunteers looked at human rights issues for LGBTQ2+ seniors (50+ years old). We started planning social events like dances and movie nights.

In 2018 OSPN hosted a Visibility in Action Forum. This was a chance for queer seniors to celebrate our vibrancy as a community and shape the future of our network.

When COVID made us cancel all in-person events, a group of volunteers put their heads together and soon had our community connected on Zoom and other systems. Meditation, movies, discussions and coffee dates continued online.

Today, OSPN has over 1,000 members!

Mission, Vision and Values

We envision a world in which LGBTQ2+ seniors are honoured, actively included in their communities, and have access to appropriate services and facilities when they need them.

Through our network of diverse queer seniors and allies we work to create:

  1. A strong, connected, visible, and mutually supportive queer community; and
  2. Culturally appropriate, safe services and supports available in our homes and communities.

We are committed to human rights, safety, social justice, and social inclusion.

We build on the strengths and resiliency of LGBTQ2+ seniors as active agents in our own well-being.

We value the diversity of the LGBTQ2+ aging community and recognize that people have many identities and may be affected by many forms of marginalization.

We build respectful working relationships with allies and others.

We believe that all queer seniors have a right to culturally-proficient health care and social services.

We are committed to building welcoming and discrimination-free environments for everyone.

We respect people’s right to choose how and when they disclose their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Our Work

OSPN has grown and changed to meet the needs and interests of our community. We have three core streams of activity:

  • building inclusive communities
  • influencing policy and implementation
  • offering programming and outreach activities that build connection and support.

Our Language

OSPN uses the acronym LGBTQ2+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, Trans, queer, two-spirit, plus) to respect the diversity in our community and the many ways people define themselves. We use LGBTQ2+ and queer to mean the same thing.

Our Logo

OSPN commissioned local queer designer Glenn Crawford of Jack Of All Trades Design to create its distinctive ‘leaf’ or tree logo. The icon itself represents nature, knowledge, growth and strength: the ‘roots’ of the senior members of the community who built the Ottawa-Gatineau queer community from the ground up in the 1970s and 80s, the ‘branches’ of the community leaders and activists who followed, and the ‘leaves’ who are the future generations who will access OSPN’s services as the needs of the community change. This is a tree of knowledge, a family tree of ‘logical’ family as opposed to ‘biological’ family, in the words of famed author Armistead Maupin.

The eight colours of the OPSN icon reference the original eight-coloured rainbow Pride flag as designed by Gilbert Baker in 1977. Each stripe in his original flag had meanings, as follows. Therefore, the OPSN leaf/tree icon also represents Baker’s original meanings for the flag.

  • Hot pink: Sex
  • Red: Life
  • Orange: Healing
  • Yellow: Sunlight
  • Green: Nature
  • Turquoise: Magic
  • Indigo: Serenity
  • Violet: Spirit

OSPN’s tagline, “Generations of Pride,” reminds our members and allies that our community has been around for many generations, both before and since the modern queer rights liberation movement, and that we will continue to be here for future generations to come.

Indigenous Land Acknowledgment

OSPN pays respect to the Algonquin Anishnaabeg people, who are the traditional guardians of the land on which we live, play and work. We acknowledge their longstanding relationship with this territory, which remains unceded. We pay respect to all Indigenous people in this region, from all nations across Canada, who call Ottawa home. We acknowledge the traditional knowledge keepers, both young and old. And we honour their courageous leaders: past, present, and future.

Strategic Plan

OSPN has four Strategic Directions to guide its activities from 2020-2023:

1. Find the money and develop supports needed to effectively engage queer seniors and allies to achieve our mission.

Intended Results

  • Organizational structure and staffing plan enable OSPN to achieve its mission
  • Sufficient and sustainable funding base
  • Mature financial management practices
  • Clear decision-making practices
  • Clear, results oriented, priorities and action plans
  • Clear roles and working relationships with key partners
  • Volunteers who feel valued, informed and clear about their roles
  • Clear membership expectations
  • Clear understanding of members and community

2. Promoting affirming and safe health care and community supports is core to OSPN’s mission. This requires continued strategic focus to ensure the needs of queer seniors are addressed as health care and social services keep changing.

Intended Results

  • Organizations and service providers understand the unique needs and lived experience of queer seniors
  • Organizations and service providers know and follow queer-positive practices
  • Queer seniors know what organizations and service providers offer or are working toward providing safe and queer-affirming health care and social services
  • OSPN is well connected and positioned to influence planning and change in health care and social service systems that will affect queer seniors in Ottawa

3. Increase opportunities for LGBTQ2+ seniors to take part in social events and feel connected.

Developing a strong, connected, visible queer community is core to the mission of OSPN. We focus on finding ways to bring queer seniors together and continue to find spaces where they can meet and become involved.

Intended Results

  • More welcoming safe spaces are available for queer seniors to connect with each other and the broader community
  • More queer seniors are connected to OSPN
  • Queer seniors feel welcomed and know how to connect to OSPN

4. Collaborate to advance the interests of the broader LGBTQ2+ community.

OSPN has built strong relationships, working with partner groups. Our work raises awareness and understanding of the unique needs of queer seniors and helps people and agencies change how they serve us. We also work with other queer-led and queer-serving groups to expand our reach and benefit the broader LGBTQ2+ community.

Intended Results

  • Clarity about shared interests across queer-led and queer-serving organizations
  • Joint work across the LGBTQ2+ community on specific ideas
  • A louder voice on issues of common interest and priority to the queer community

Our Organizing Model

OSPN’s organizing model leverages the strength and capacity of our community volunteers combined with support from our organizational partners and funders.

  1. Volunteer-based task teams, operating with a clear focus, defined roles and a set timeframe, lead our efforts to build inclusive communities and influence policy and implementation.
  2. Staff manage and provide our programming and outreach activities with volunteers informing, co-designing and supporting implementation of activities.
  3. Our Coordinating Committee of volunteer leaders provides strategic leadership and coordination of our work including managing our relationships with partner organizations, the broader LGBTQ2+ community and our allies.
  4. Our key organizational partners collaborate with us to advance our work and provide the necessary infrastructure and support.
    • The Good Companions Seniors Centre is a longstanding senior’s organization. They have a demonstrated commitment to LGBTQ2+ seniors. They offer a welcoming and safe space for our community to gather and connect (in person and virtually). They  manage  the staff and volunteers responsible for programs and activities as well as the associated funding.
    • Centretown Community Health Centre is a primary health care organization. They offer  a hub for queer competent primary health care and wellness services. They work as an ally to influence positive change to better meet the needs of queer seniors and the broader LGBTQ2+ community.

Different funders recognize the unique needs of queer seniors fund our core programs and project-based work.