Happy Pride Saskatoon!
For 25 years Sheri Benson, CEO of United Way of Saskatoon and Area, has brought people together to tackle some of the most pressing issues in Saskatoon. Homelessness, Indigenous Engagement, and 2SLGBTQ+ issues—these are just some of the issues that Sheri has faced head on. She has also tackled these issues nationally as a Member of Parliament to Canada’s House of Commons.
In 2015, Sheri was elected to Canada’s House of Commons where she served 4 years as the Member of Parliament for Saskatoon West. As a Member of Parliament, Sheri was the Deputy Critic for 2SLGBTQ+ issues.
Having worked in with the 2SLGBTQ+ community for many years, Sheri has seen the way advocacy work and caring have made changes for younger generations of the 2SLGBTQ+ community:
“As famous cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. Our community is better today, especially for younger people who identify as 2SLGBTQ+. It is because we stand on a foundation, a long history of caring people who changed the world, and Saskatoon, for the better.”
“I was lucky enough to know and work with some of those game changing and brave leaders. Many of those leaders came around a table in the early 70’s, led by Gens Helquist, and formed an organization called Gay Liberation. This was the foundation for what is now Out Saskatoon”.
From these roots, and under the direction of Sheri Benson, organizations like United Way of Saskatoon and Area have participated in funding the continuation of this work. Since 2008 UWSA has funded the important work of OUTSaskatoon: “We were the first United Way in Canada to fund an organization focused on the health and wellbeing of members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. I am so very proud of that leadership from staff and volunteers. It is a highlight of my career at United Way”.
It’s clear that Sheri has a deep connection to this topic, and that she has been invested in seeing that the advocacy for the 2SLGBTQ+ community continues and grows.
“As a local leader, a Member of Parliament, and a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, I took every opportunity to engage young people in opportunities to see themselves as leaders. One of my absolute favourite experiences as a MP was hosting one or two young people for Rainbow Day on the Hill, an initiative of the Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity. It was such an honour and a privilege to host these high school students. Representation is important, and I wanted them to see someone from their community in an elected position”.
Although Sheri has been working with and on behalf of the 2SLGBTQ+ community for many years, her work continues. With significant experience, Sheri Benson offers this to the youth of Saskatoon and abroad:
“My advice to young people…never say never! You never know when that opportunity, however small, will lead to something else. Change and leadership come in many shapes and forms. Sometimes it will be volunteering for a local pride event, or it might be running for elected office. It all matters; it’s all important work, and the cumulation of our efforts, big and small, will definitely change the world”.
Working together, United Way of Saskatoon and Area is supporting children, youth, and their families so that they have the means to thrive as strong citizens in our community. By identifying and addressing the barriers that exist for our 2SLGBTQ+ friends and family, we are continuing the important work of advocates like Sheri Benson. We are celebrating pride with you Saskatoon!