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In focus: USSU Pride Centre co-ordinator is a champion for youth

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USSU Pride Centre Co-ordinator Jory Mckay poses for a photograph in the Pride Centre on the U of S campus on March 11,
2019.

For some, it takes years to find a place as a leader within their given community. For Jory Mckay, a second-year anthropology student and the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union Pride Centre co-ordinator, he started in a leadership role earlier than most.

When Mckay was 17 years old, he joined the Swift Current pride board of directors and had already worked to establish the Gay-Straight Alliance at his high school. Now, at 19 years old, Mckay is a board member of the Saskatoon Pride Festival in addition to co-ordinating the USSU Pride Centre. Here is more from one of Saskatchewan’s most prominent youth leaders.

Do you have any secret talents?

“I’m an amazing swimmer. I used to be a competitive swimmer until I was 17. I quit because I didn’t have time anymore. I swam like twice a day in the summer, and in the winter, I used to compete, too. I went to summer games. I got a couple golds at provincials because I’m really good at back crawl. Everyone hates it, but I’m good at it for some reason.”

What are your plans after university?

“I really want to work at OUTSaskatoon — that’s my goal. I really want to work with LGBTQ2+ children. I’m passionate about working with kids of various abilities — I used to work in the summer fun program in Swift Current. I was the assistant co-ordinator when I was 17, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. It was so validating to be there for those kids.”

When did you get involved?

“I first joined the [Swift Current] board. I spoke out and said that the youth aren’t being involved, and they are such a massive part of the community, and they just want to get involved. The adults just kind of sat back and realized the youth needed to be consulted more. So that was [me] first realizing about how important this is and how important my voice is.”

What draws you to leadership roles?

“I really like standing up for people that are scared to stand up for themselves… Specifically within the queer community, I’m drawn to the people within the community, how inclusive it is and how safe I feel — I really just want to give that back. I want to help the community because these people helped me.”

What do you hope pride-goers take away from this year’s pride week?

“It’s more than just the partying and going to a drag show. While that is so much fun and important for our history, it’s also really cool to go to a sexual education or history event. I feel like sometimes people just look at the beer gardens and think, ‘Oh, that’s pride.’ While it’s an important aspect, there is so much more. I would like to see more people go to these informative events.”

Why is it crucial to listen to the perspectives of queer youth?

“The role of youth in queer conversations is just as important as anyone else’s role… It’s just as important for youth to be included in every conversation. With so many events being 19 plus, that’s a huge barrier. Including these voices in important — conversations increase diversity in the community. So many kids don’t feel accepted, so having their voices heard in their high schools, middle schools and within their houses is huge.”

Tanner Bayne / News Editor

Photo: Riley Deacon / Photo Editor

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