Grenfell student union president wins national advocacy award

By Melanie Callahan | Jan. 14, 2015

A Grenfell Campus student has been recognized with an Egale Canada Human Rights Trust award for participating in the 2014 #HearOurStory video campaign.

Chelsea Noel, 25, is a fourth-year visual arts student and the president of the Grenfell Campus Student Union.

Chelsea, who identifies as non-binary and uses the gender-neutral pronouns "they/them/their," was hesitant to share their personal experiences on film at first. Then, they decided it was too important not to.

The #HearOurStory campaign recently concluded with Chelsea's video, the winning submission. The video is available to view here.

The video tells the story of Chelsea's difficulties growing up in Corner Brook as the only openly queer person in the city’s high school. These challenges led them to depression, isolation and substance abuse.

The story is a successful one, though. Chelsea eventually found the strength and confidence to enrol in university, and is now only a few short months away from graduation with a bachelor of fine arts degree.

And, while at Grenfell, Chelsea has been instrumental in growing the profile of the LGTBQ community, including the establishment of Newfoundland and Labrador’s first gender-neutral bathroom, which is located at Grenfell Campus. Chelsea has also played a key role in organizing community pride events and celebrations.

“When I came to Grenfell, I was very shy and introverted," said Chelsea. "I still am, in a way. However, the support I found there, it's such an inclusive and welcoming community — it really gave me the strength that I needed to do the work that I do now. It's so fulfilling, very rewarding. I couldn't imagine doing anything else."

Egale Human Rights Trust promotes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans human rights through research, education and community engagement. In August 2014, Egale launched the #HearOurStory project in order to bring to light the complex issues and impassioned people of the Canadian LGBTQ community.




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