Canada’s longest continuously running 2SLGBTQ+ resource centre, Rainbow Resource Centre (RRC), is soon moving buildings to create an even larger and more accessible space.
RRC was born 50 years ago, originally as a student group at the U of M in the ’70s, and is now a non-profit organization that serves the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Manitoba.
RRC’s current programming and services include free short-term counselling, a youth program and its Over the Rainbow 55+ program, as well as a plethora of diverse volunteer-run social support groups. The centre provides education about diversity, equity and inclusion, and its Winnipeg location is home to one of the largest 2SLGBTQ+ libraries in central Canada.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for RRC, as its new location comes with major plans for the community including the development of affordable housing for 2SLGBTQ+ older adults. The centre is partnering with Westminster Housing Society to create 21 new affordable housing units.
Despite the historical progress that has been made over the last 50 years, Joey Moore, director of services at RRC, said that there’s still a significant need for spaces where 2SLGBTQ+ folks can gather together and build community.
“There’s also a really high and steady, growing demand for affordable housing dedicated to 2SLGBTQ+ older adults,” Moore said.
“We know that a lot of older adults who were on the front lines advocating for change, advocating for their rights, as they may go into assisted care or different living situations, a lot of them who’ve spent their whole [lives] being out and proud are being forced back into the closet in order to receive basic care.”
The new space will be perfect for what RRC has in store for the future, as its current location at 170 Scott Street is a “disjointed space,” according to Moore.
“We’re tenants of part of the building,” Moore explained. “As other parts of the building opened up, we took over those spaces and kind of expanded within a series of buildings.”
Moore said that the simple act of coming through the front door and heading to a programming space involves navigating a labyrinth of lefts and rights, and that RRC is rapidly outgrowing its current home.
“This new space, essentially what it’s going to be is three floors of the 21 units and then [RRC], we are having a lease on the main floor that’s going to be an empty space that we get to create intention within,” they said.
Alongside all this, RRC has purchased and will be operating inside the historic Wilson House while everything else is developed.
Moore explained that the development process is occurring in phases. The organization is moving into Wilson House while the new space is under construction. They said that once construction is complete, RRC will be able to use that space while it begins internal renovations at Wilson House to “make it more purposeful for the needs that we have within the community.”
“When we did our strategic plan, Rainbow Resource Centre changed our mission statement, which really aligns with this new move,” Moore added.
“Rainbow Resource Centre nurtures inclusive spaces for 2SLGBTQ+ folks to thrive, and this space is a space where communities can call it their own, feel at home and thrive. That’s exactly what we’re doing here.”
The move is scheduled for May 10, leaving the centre closed from May 8-12, but the centre will re-open at the Wilson House on May 15, right before pride season begins.
For more info on the RRC and its programming, visit rainbowresourcecentre.org.