In 2011, David Pepper, an LGBTQI activist from Ottawa, traveled to all 10 provinces in Canada as part of a public education tour raising awareness about issues facing LGBTQI refugees. David is the founder of the North Star Triangle Project, a volunteer project to educate and mobilize Canadian LGBTQI communities about LGBTQI refugees in the world.
In June 2011, a spark was set off after he spoke at Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) to a small crowd of approximately 15 people. A few Halifax LGBTQI activists decided to take action and met in a local coffee shop with the private refugee sponsorship coordinator from ISANS , Evelyn Jones.
They then decided to hold a public event to educate Haligonians around LGBTQI refugee issues and the idea of private refugee sponsorship. Although interest was high, with 25 people showing up to the first workshop, it was hard to get people to sign up to a project that didn't yet have an established structure or leadership. It was decided that at the next public meeting, a board would be formed.
In five short years, with the continued help of Evelyn from ISANS, RRANS today is a registered non-profit society in Nova Scotia that has successfully sponsored 5 LGBTQI refugees and assisted with the local settlement of an additional 6 LGBTQI refugees. We are currently in the process of sponsoring our sixth and seventh refugees, and RRANS continues to provide advocacy as part of our mandate.