ALBERTA

Calgary Outlink Lays Off All Staff After Allegations Of Racism

09/15/2015 02:08 EDT | Updated 09/15/2015 05:59 EDT

Allegations of racism and mismanagement have caused one of Calgary's longest-running resource centres for the LGBTQ+ community to shut its doors, possibly for good.

Calgary Outlink: Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity has operated in Calgary for more than 30 years.

But after allegations of racism against the staff and organization were raised in a community report regarding Outlink's Beyond Borders program, which supports LGBTQ+ immigrants, Outlink released a Facebook statement announcing the organization would be restructured and all services would be temporarily suspended.

The report alleged Outlink's executive director, Brett Mason, had behaved in a "racist" manner towards clients of Beyond Borders, and had exhibited multiple "racist micro-aggressions" toward community members.

Meeting notes addressing the incident report lists the requests made by Beyond Borders volunteers, including that Mason be fired, "systemic racism" be addressed, and "that Outlink publicly acknowledge that they caused harm by delivering programs incompetently and that they do not have the capacity to deliver programs to people of color."

The organization followed up with a statement noting that they lacked capacity to complete funding agreements. Outlink said that due to financial issues, all staff had been laid off and that funding would be returned to funders. The group also withdrew from Calgary's pride parade on Sept. 6.

On Sept. 13, they also added that the organization's quorum is not met, and cheques are not being written. However, all bills, with the exceptions of September's rent, have been paid.

Now, as of Sept. 15, only one board member remains at the organization. All others have resigned.

In response to recent questions, concerns and comments:1) Calgary Outlink has not dissolved. The organization still...

Posted by Calgary OutLink on Sunday, 13 September 2015

Now, Outlink is looking for new members to join a working board. However, the call has upset many members of the community, with commenters requesting transparency. They want to know who is speaking for the board, managing the group's social media, and if the organization can actually legally exist without at least five board members.

The remaining board member of Outlink, who did not want their name used for this story, said to The Huffington Post Canada, "it is my hope that an entirely new board will be voted in by members on October 1, 2015. That board will be tasked with rebuilding the organization."

The closure has effected some of Calgary's most vulnerable populations.

The Gauntlet, The University of Calgary's student newspaper, reported that the school's Q Centre Coordinators Leah Schmidt and Katie O'Brien are concerned about the gap in services created by Outlink's closure.

“We hope that the resource gap that has been left by [Outlink’s] stalled front-line services will be able to be negotiated through community effort. We want to ensure that marginalized populations in Calgary, specifically young queer people in need of support, will still be able to find adequate resources at this time," said the Q Centre in a statement, The Gauntlet reported.

Community members in need of alternative resources while Outlink's future is still uncertain can look to the Calgary Sexual Health Centre, Distress Centre, HIV Community Link, and the U of C Q Centre.