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More than 114 million individuals have been forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations and climate disasters. Queer and trans refugees are uniquely vulnerable due to state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia. More than 60 countries criminalize same-sex intimacy, and 14 specifically criminalize trans people for their gender identities and expressions.

Join Canadian Club Toronto on June 17 for our Annual Pride Conversation where we will shine a spotlight on the incredible work of Rainbow Railroad. We are honoured to host Devon Matthews, Rainbow Railroad’s Head of Programs, and Latoya Nugent, Head of Engagement in conversation to discuss the state of global LGBTQI+ persecution and offer insights into how each of us can contribute to the fight for queer liberation.

 

Devon Matthews

Head of Programs, Rainbow Railroad

Devon comes to Rainbow Railroad with most recent experience as the Manager of Fellowship Programs at Engineers without Borders Canada, where her work involved the strategic oversight and execution of four programs based in sub-Saharan Africa. Devon brings with her years of experience in facilitation, activism, coaching, immigrant services, participatory research, and non-profit fundraising. Devon holds numerous professional certifications in project management, social systems leadership, and professional coaching — she also holds a BA(honours) from Dalhousie University where she specialized in International Development. When not at Rainbow Railroad, Devon can be found writing, reading, organizing, and consulting in Toronto and abroad.

Latoya Nugent

Head of Engagement, Rainbow Railroad

Latoya Nugent is a black queer refugee feminist activist with over 15 years of experience in education and training, advocacy, movement building, strategic leadership, program development, and design thinking. Grounded in the Frierean philosophy and tradition of teaching for transformation, Latoya’s approach to advocacy and leadership centers people with lived expertise toward her vision of co-curating a liberatory world. A critical thinker and strategist, Latoya designed and led a significant body of work in the Caribbean at the intersection of queer identities, black feminisms, and financial freedom.

In her capacity as Head of Engagement, Latoya leads the organization’s design thinking and strategic engagement with partners and the public, to deepen the understanding of our mission and galvanize support and buy-in for building a global queer liberation movement. She oversees the design and implementation of our communications, volunteer, and refugee leadership initiatives, as we cultivate more meaningful relationships with partners and amplify the impact of our work.

An avid reader, lover of music, landscape photography, and open waters, Latoya has made Canada her home, thanks to the radical and revolutionary work of Rainbow Railroad and the kindness and compassion of The 519.