The RHO Conference

Looking back: the 2018 RHO Conference

The 5th Rainbow Health Ontario (RHO) Conference from March 21 to 24, 2018 continued the conference’s tradition of bringing together agents of change in LGBT2SQ health, and by all accounts was the event’s strongest delivery yet. The conference’s rich and innovative programming with an intersectional focus on LGBT2SQ health offered over 50 workshops and presentations, featured three plenaries, and welcomed over 325 attendees.

The biennial conference—Canada’s largest on LGBT2SQ health—was in Sudbury, Ontario, on the territories of the Atikameksheng and Wahnapitae First Nations, who are part of the Anishnawbek Nation. The location was part of an emphasis on Indigenous, rural, northern and/or Francophone LGBT2SQ health; local committee members brought invaluable knowledge to the event’s planning.

The conference opened with a powerful start from keynote speaker Candy Palmater, who spoke about the importance of allyship and self-love for LGBT2SQ health, saying, “If you never want to offend someone, do absolutely nothing—and the world will remain the same. But if you want to be a better ally, get to work. Be ready to learn, and to forgive yourself.”

In remarks throughout the conference, RHO Director Devon MacFarlane recognized RHO’s 10th anniversary year and encouraged attendees to learn, share and connect. In addition to self-organized caucuses, the conference offered a meet-and-greet for Black, Indigenous and Racialized participants.

In the final plenary, Camille Orridge encouraged attendees to embrace discomfort to drive change, including in unexpected partnerships.

Closing the conference, MacFarlane said, “My hope is that your RHO Conference experience extends far beyond your time here, that we all leave thinking about what we can take away and do next for LGBT2SQ health. Thank you for co-creating this space and event together with us.”

Full-day professional development sessions preceded the conference, including a session delivered in French by Françoise Susset on supporting trans and gender-diverse children and youth.