Hamilton Police retain third-party facilitator for LGBTQIA and 2 Spirit conversations


Published April 18, 2023 at 10:34 am

hamilton pride

In the wake of violence at a 2019 Hamilton Pride and an inadequate police response, Hamilton Police have retained a third-party facilitator.

Rebecca Banky has been retained as a third-party facilitator to lead ongoing conversations between Hamilton Police and the 2S&LGBTQIA communities, the Hamilton Police Service said in a press release today (April 18).

Banky’s nomination comes at the suggestion of the community, police said. She has lived and worked in Hamilton for the past 11 years. She has important lived experience of being trans, queer, and an active member of Hamilton’s 2S&LGBTQIA community.

As chair of the city’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee, she has also worked closely with city staff and the community.

“I have personally been the victim of hate in our city,” says Banky. “This, along with my experience as a queer Hamiltonian interacting with police, motivates my work. I believe my role as an arm-length contractor allows for the focus of this facilitation to be the needs of the 2S&LGBTQIA community, with a clear goal in making things better for us.”

Banky has begun her work with the community through a series of focus groups with 2S&LGBTQIA community members.

The facilitator selection follows lawyer Scott Bergman’s June 2020 independent review of the events surrounding Hamilton Pride 2019. Bergman found the Hamilton Police Service fell short in its planning and preparation for Pride 2019. Officers failed to protect members of the community when violence broke out.

Several recommendations came out of Bergman’s review including retaining a facilitator to lead the dialogue between police and 2S&LGBTQIA communities.

Hamilton Police Service then worked with McMaster University on the selection process beginning in 2021.

An engagement survey helped inform the selection  — respondents were asked questions about what qualifications were required for the facilitator role as well as the creation of a community advisory panel and issues that should be addressed in conversations.

The survey found the facilitator should be someone who is politically neutral, unbiased, and independent of Hamilton Police as well as a member of the Hamilton 2S&LGBTQIA communities.

The individual should also understand the historical oppression of marginalized groups by police, have previous experience working with 2S&LGBTQIA communities and a background in trauma-informed practice.

Based on the feedback, the 2S&LGBTQIA community nominated potential facilitators who fit the criteria.

Hamilton Police then selected the facilitator from among these nominees.

“We acknowledge the time it has taken to get to this point. We thank the community for their input and feel Rebecca is absolutely the right person to move these much-needed conversations forward,” said Chief Frank Bergen.

If you are from the 2S&LGBTQIA community and interested in participating, contact Banky at [email protected].

Feedback from the focus groups will inform a Town Hall meeting in fall 2023.

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