A group has formed to assist a refugee to come to the Cowichan Valley who is a member of the LGBTQ2S+ community in a country that is largely hostile to such sexual orientations, and they are hosting a no-holds-barred drag show to get the fundraising ball rolling.
Jeff Leggat, a member of Duncan United Church, said the church recently became an official “Affirming Church”, which means its members actively work to be inclusive, welcoming, and loving of all members of the LGBTQ2S+ community.
He said one of the church’s first calls to action as an Affirming Church has been to create the volunteer committee ARC, which means Assisting Refugees in Cowichan, consisting of three members of the church, two members of the local LGBTQ2S+ community and two advisors.
“Our mission statement is to affect positive change through kindness, love and support for one person or family at a time through the act of refugee sponsorship,” Leggat said.
“We are focusing on sponsoring and supporting a member of the LGBTQ2S+ community in a country where homosexuality is considered illegal and people may be persecuted with sentences up to, and including, the death penalty.”
Leggat said a person from an African country has been chosen by ARC to be the first refugee the committee will sponsor, but his/her identity can’t be released until the application process has been successfully completed.
He said ARC is in the process of trying to raise $30,000 over the next few months to satisfy the government requirements to bring the refugee to Canada, application process fees and refugee settlement costs for a 12-month period.
“An anonymous donor has already pledged to match the first $10,000 dollars raised, which has given us such an incredible boost,” he said.
Leggat said ARC is sponsoring a drag show fundraiser, which will be a RuPaul-type event, with performers coming from Toronto and Vancouver on Oct. 22 at the Duncan Eagles Hall for about 300 guests in two shows, depending on health restrictions at the time, and is seeking door prizes as well as 50/50 giveaways for the event.
Tickets for the two shows, which begin at 7 p.m. and at 9:30 p.m., are $20 each and can be purchased at Red Arrow Brewery, The Ginger Room on Craig Street, Duncan Pets on the Trans-Canada Highway, and Gibby’s Cafe at Berkey’s Corner.
He said ARC will also sponsor an Online Auction Gala starting at the end of October that will run until Christmas, and is looking for products, gift certificates and gift baskets that will be auctioned off.
ARC’s Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/104258685326914/posts/114968984255884/?sfnsn=mo
Donations dropped off at Duncan United Church will go directly to ARC.
Leggat said donations will be recognized on ARC’s social medial platforms, the drag show and throughout the auction.
“The Cowichan Valley has proven time and time again to be a welcoming and supportive community with strong leadership, positive community values and progressive social goals,” a press release from ARC said.
“We believe that it ‘takes a village’ to raise and develop successful members of society and, with that in mind, we come to you asking for your help.”