One of central Alberta’s own has been named to the top 25 most influential human rights activists in Alberta.
Born and raised in the Ponoka area, Chevi Rabbit was recognized on Monday during a special ceremony at the Legislature hosted by Canadians for a Civil Society (CCS) for her work on social issues and LGBTQ rights.
Rabbit, who has almost completed the transition to being a transgendered woman, says the honour caught her off guard.
“I'm in my little bubble, doing the work I do, doing it passionately,” she says. “I fall in love with a project and I really develop it.”
Among other things, Rabbit recently launched the Maskwacis Two Spirit Society, a support group for Indigenous LGBTQ youth. As well, her Hate to Hope Walk remains an annual event.
Rabbit’s work, which also earned her a nod recently in Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40, stems from a hate incident in Edmonton in 2012 where she was the victim.
Rabbit, who studied Hospitality and Tourism Management at Red Deer College from 2006 to 2008, says helping with groups like Pride Edmonton and The Mustard Seed are just a couple ways she supports social housing, homelessness, transgender and LGBTQ issues.
“A lot of the people there aren’t as lucky as I was growing up. They don’t have the support networks,” she says. “They fall between the cracks and rely on these social services as their last chance at living a productive life.”
Also a recipient of a Youth Hate Crime Awareness award in 2014, Rabbit says she will be running for a spot on Edmonton city council in Ward 8 three years from now. She says there's a lot of talk and not much action on certain social issues.
“Support for Gay-Straight Alliances is a good place to start, and the washroom issue, as well as just creating that safe workspace, which right now is quite discriminatory against people who don’t fit the mold of male or female,” she says.
“In the makeup industry, I’ve been welcomed with open arms, but there are a lot that won't accept transgender people. There's a lot of harassment and bullying. We need to work on policies of inclusion. It starts at City Hall.”
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