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Building Community with Tea

April 27, 2020

Sexual Assault Centre (SAC) of Brant, recipient of our Kyle Scanlon Memorial Fund, shares how they put their funding to use during the COVID-19 crisis.

A cup of tea can make things better. But Jay (they/them) and Hayley (she/her) from the Sexual Assault Centre (SAC) of Brant went a step further to use it as a tool for community building.

In 2019, SAC received funding from our Kyle Scanlon Memorial Fund – established to memorialize the sudden passing of Kyle Scanlon, a long-time staff member of The 519, who worked closely with trans communities to support and advance trans inclusion. SAC planned to use this funding to address the lack of safe and affirming spaces for trans folks with a tea-based community-building event.

“Spaces that are reserved specifically for trans, two-spirit, and genderfluid folks aren’t as common outside of larger cities like Toronto and the GTA – so that was our main goal. We liked the idea of being able to share tea blends that could protect folks during the cold and flu season for free, but mostly, we wanted to provide a space for them to be together.”

But Jay and Hayley had to re-evaluate their plans due to the COVID-19 crisis. Although SAC continues to provide remote crisis and support services during the crisis, an in-person meet over tea was no longer possible.

The original plan was to create a space where folks could come and hang out, drink and take home some teas that boost immunity and protect the respiratory system, and also create their own personalized journals. When the in-person event got cancelled, they decided to connect folks digitally and share the teas to provide a little bit of relief and a sense of community.

The invitation that the centre put out for the event

“We need to be looking to each other for support, healing, love, care, and connection.”

Prioritizing low income and/or immune-compromised trans, two-spirit, and genderfluid folks, they hosted two online events, mailing the packaged teas and inviting participants for conversations.

“One thing that surprised us about how well it went has been how quickly we run out of things. There is definitely a need for plant medicines for folks in our communities.”

The global pandemic has only augmented the inequities facing our LGBTQ2S communities. But it has also shown us that it is possible to mobilize and change our approach to making a difference. There’s power in community, and in tea, of course.

Learn about the Kyle Scanlon Memorial Fund