Zoe Raemer – Stories of LGBTQ Activism in the NWT

Zoe Raemer has seen massive transformation over the past 30+ years in LGBTQ rights and social justice in the North West Territories. Earlier this week she joined Ben over zoom from her home in Victoria, to share some incredible stories about the LGBTQ rights movement in Yellowknife and her involvement over the years. Here is a timeline of significant events that Zoe recently shared to social media. It’s incredible how much can change in a person’s lifetime when even a tiny group of very passionate and determined people take a stand.
From Zoe Raemer:
1990 – NWT’s first entry into the Gay Games (Vancouver – softball)
1990 – Yellowknife’s first organized gay and lesbian ( sorry BTQ friends, not only are we old, but we were acronym challenged and politically incorrect) Halloween party
1992 – Yellowknife’s first public pride event: the basement of the Scotia Centre in the YWCA offices. Four (!!) people attended including one journalist and one toddler. And me. And the toddler’s Mom, my dear friend.
1994- Team NWT attends Gay Games in New York City (Billiards)
1995 – The first request is made to the City of Yellowknife to proclaim Gay Pride Day. It fails.
1996 – A second request is made to the City with respect to Gay Pride Day. It fails. Again.
1997 – OutNorth formed
1997 – A third request is made to the City of Yellowknife to proclaim Gay Pride Day. You guessed it. It fails.
1997 – OutNorth sponsor “Gay Day Anyway” ( as the NNSL papers dub it) and members offer folks a celebratory slice of cake. This tradition continues to this day.
1997 – Canada’s national gay and lesbian organization, EGALE, elects its first board member from the NWT
1997 – OutNorth’s lobbying efforts to change the definition of spouse in NWT laws are unsuccessful but generate reams of copy for local papers.
1998 – Yellowknife’s first gay and lesbian film festival is held at the Wildcat Cafe. In the winter. With a sheet hung from the rafters as a screen.
1998 – At long last the City of Yellowknife proclaims a now forgotten summer day as Gay Pride Day.
1999 – Supreme Court of Canada decision on rights of same sex spouses leads to change in NWT laws. But only after some highly ridiculous commentary from the then legislators of the NWT.
2002 – A new Adoption and Family Law Act is passed in the NWT giving gays and lesbians unprecedented familial rights in the Territories.
2002 – Human Rights legislation is passed in the NWT banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sexual identity. The legislation is the first in Canada – indeed in North America – to explicitly protect transgender people.
2005 – Gays and lesbians can legally marry in the NWT
2006 – The old folks got tired.

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