Hello Airdrie and Area!
My name is Candice Kutyn, and I have been a board member with the Airdrie Pride Society since February, 2017. I am a single mother with 3 children, one who is an adult and the other two, ages 14 and 6.
I moved to Airdrie from the Vancouver area in 2009, and we noticed within the first few days of living here that Airdrie had a friendly small town feel that was absent living near Vancouver. I initially commuted to Calgary for work, but in December of 2015 I achieved what I call “living the dream”, that is, living and working in Airdrie. This is when I was welcomed into my work family at Community Links, and my connection and love of Airdrie was solidified. I will graduate with my bachelors degree in social work in the spring of 2018. I call myself a social justice warrior, and am so thankful to have found my passion in helping people.
I have been volunteering and working in the addictions and mental health field for the past 13 years, and throughout this time I have worked with many youth and adults who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. In this, I have seen how their lives have been impacted by being accepted or not. I have been influenced by a few experiences that really solidified how important supports for the LGBTQ+ community can be, and how much of a positive impact that that can have. The experience that stands out most, was my work at a youth detox in Vancouver, where I worked with street entrenched youth. Despite the fact that there was gender segregation in the detox, youth were able to stay with the gender that they identified with, and we connected the youth with health professionals and supports who were knowledgeable and accepting of our youth. Although the complex nature of these youths lives meant that they did not necessarily find safe homes and sobriety right away, the support and acceptance that they experienced at the youth detox, meant that they had a connection to caring adults that they could always turn to for help. This experience ignited a passion in me for supporting and accepting the LGBTQ+ community.
I identify as an ally, and because I identify as straight white female, I experience great privilege, simply for being born the gender that I identify with, and for being heterosexual. For me, until recently, it has been difficult to find true self acceptance and authenticity, and reflecting on this I can only imagine how self acceptance is impacted when there are barriers to this, not only in families, but society as a whole. I celebrate anyone who has the courage to live their lives as their true authentic selves, and I want to help this process in any way that I can.
I am thrilled that I have the opportunity to be a part of the really cool things that Airdrie Pride has on the horizon, and look forward to connecting with the wonderful people who support us!