March 4, 2020 | Campus Life
Brendan Collinge, third-year Bachelor of Communication Studies student majoring in journalism, is this year’s recipient of the Hayley Jayne Richman Memorial Award, which supports students who are members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, allies of the community or those who have LGBTQ2S+ parents.
Brendan has reported on stories related to the LGBTQ+ community, including the art of drag shows, the efficacy of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and issues like transphobia. “After my studies, I hope to be an effective media voice in my community to help achieve social equity and justice for all of us,” he says.
But it’s not only in the media or in the classroom that Brendan is making a difference. Since moving to Edmonton from a small town to pursue post-secondary studies, he has made an effort to learn about and grow within the city’s LGBTQ2S+ community and make connections with people who have similar concerns and passions.
“With gender and sexual minorities, there are not a lot of us where I come from, and so there wasn’t a lot for me to learn or explore in my hometown,” he says.
One of the connections he made was with the Edmonton Men’s Health Collective (EMHC), which was seeking volunteers for a new initiative: a sexual health team that works on projects to encourage sexual health among Edmonton’s gay, bisexual, queer, trans and two-spirit — or the men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) demographic.
As a founding member of this team, Brendan has been involved in compiling a report on the social determinants of sexual health for MSM, promoting awareness of HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to attendees at the Rainbow Visions Film Festival, transcribing interviews with leading HIV experts on PrEP, compiling blood spots for testing at the Edmonton Pride Festival and supporting the EMHC in its advocacy work.
“School does take centre stage a lot, but I just try to do what I can when I have a bit of spare time,” he says.
“When I’m done my degree, I would like to continue helping provide a voice to important stories and aspects of life that sometimes get swept under the rug or go unnoticed.”
The Hayley Jayne Richman Memorial Award, the first of its kind at MacEwan, supports students who identify as members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, allies of the community or those who have LGBTQ2S+ parents. Recipients must also have made significant contributions to fostering service and activism, demonstrating leadership in activities or issues that promote awareness and acceptance, or actively advocating for LGBTQ2S+ youth who are affected by bullying or suicide.
This award was established in memory of Hayley Jayne Richman who was a passionate leader and supporter of the LGBTQ2S+ community. She encouraged everyone to seek academia and to never let any obstacles impact an education. Always waving her rainbow flag proudly, she selflessly volunteered her time and energy to her community and she continues to do so with this award posthumously.
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