As the Dean of the Faculty of Education, with accountability for the Institute of Sexual Minority Studies and Services (iSMSS) and Camp fYrefly, I would like to provide clarity on recent developments with iSMSS and the camp.
iSMSS is undergoing an organizational restructuring, a process that began in the fall of 2017 and involved significant consultation with the current faculty directors, staff and the executive committee. All agree the institute should move forward under a new administrative structure more closely aligned with the structure of other University of Alberta institutes and centres, which includes the establishment of an Executive Director. The current Faculty Directors, Dr. Kris Wells and Dr. Andre Grace, both invaluable to the institute, will retain important research roles, be involved in supporting the strategic direction of iSMSS and continue their excellent work on behalf of the institute. Both Dr. Wells and Dr. Grace were consulted during the review process, were present at the Executive Committee meeting when the revised structure was endorsed, and have been supportive of iSMSS’s new direction.
The changes also have implications for the management of Camp fYrefly. In collaboration with faculty, it was determined the way to provide the best leadership camp experience for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified, two-spirited, intersexed, queer, questioning, and allied youth this year was to offer a provincial Camp fYrefly for summer 2018. This is a pilot project that follows the same successful model used in Saskatchewan and Ontario, and the circumstances of this year provide an opportunity to evaluate the model in Alberta.
The Edmonton camp was previously held at Pigeon Lake. The 2018 provincial camp will be held near Canmore, Alberta, at a location that improves accessibility for many of the youth who attend. Campers, volunteers and staff from the Edmonton area will travel together by bus to Canmore, where they will join campers from the southern part of the province for four amazing days in July. Youth and volunteers from around the province will have the opportunity to learn and grow together in strength, resiliency, creativity and leadership, as well as expand their networks across Alberta.
Any allegations of discrimination such as racism or misogyny at the university are taken seriously. We can confirm that we have not received any formal complaints of this nature. We encourage anyone who feels they have been exposed to this kind of behaviour to come forward and make a formal complaint under the associated policies and procedures. The University of Alberta takes all complaints very seriously and follows a fair, thorough process that respects the dignity and reputation of all parties involved.
The staff and faculty of iSMSS and the Faculty of Education care deeply about the perspectives of youth and have worked hard over the past 14 years to develop a leadership camp that is based in solid research and built on the needs expressed by LGBTQ2+ youth. Our goal remains offering the most positive and best possible experience for Camp fYrefly participants.
I would to encourage our community members to follow the official Camp fYrefly Facebook and Twitter accounts for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
Dean, Faculty of Education