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AlterHéros is a non-profit community organization. Located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the organization was founded in 2003 and is staffed almost entirely by volunteers. AlterHéros’ mission is to foster the development of individuals in relation to their sexual orientation, gender identity, and sexuality. While our services are mainly tailored towards the needs of young people aged 14 to 35, our resources are available to any individual who may need information or support regardless of age.
Our three core objectives are to :
Enable participants to communicate with an interdisciplinary team of physical, mental and psychological health professionals specializing in sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sexual health;
Provide thematic and structured space for socialization by exploring supportive topics in a facilitated setting in order to promote physical, mental and psychological health and break isolation;
Study current social and political issues and their impacts related to sexual orientation, gender identity and sexuality.
AlterHéros is a combination of the Latin word “alter”, which means “other”, and “hero”. AlterHéros is an organization that supports the “other heroes and heroines” of our society, those who combat prejudice and fight for their rights. The “A” aspect of the logo represents a mountain, symbolizing the problems of homophobia, transphobia and multiple other prejudices that LGBTQ+ people must so often overcome, while the curve represents a path leading to the top. The “H” extends to form the accent of the “é”, which represents a hand that reaches out for others
AlterHéros is an organization mostly run by dynamic volunteers who are committed to provide information about the challenges of sexual and gender diversity and to demystify LGBTQ+ identities and orientations.
Last June, the new Board of Directors has been elected by the members at the Annual General Meeting.
The idea of developing a website to help young LGBT people along with their extended community of friends, family and allies, was first realized in the form of a university project entitled “My Leadership Development Plan”. Marc-Olivier Ouellet created this initiative as part of a leadership course through McGill University where he studied Computer Engineering and Technological Entrepreneurship. The driving impulse behind the project was to develop a plan of action to encourage queer youth leadership in Quebec. The project was awarded an A grade, and, during the winter break, Marc-Olivier decided to move forward and concretize his project.
Marc-Olivier created both the name and the logo for “AlterHéros” during the same evening. In May, he began drafting the website. Two people joined the project : Isabelle and Magda. Marc-Olivier and his boyfriend Waseem Khan registered AlterHéros as a non-profit organization with the Registre Québécois des Entreprises.
Émissaire (MTS-SIDA Montérégie, at the time) gave its support and also became involved as a partner. Stratèges-Idées, a communications company, also joined the project by helping AlterHéros to prepare its communication plan and launch the website.
Saturday, August 3, 2002 marked the public launch of the website during the Divers / Cité festivities in Montreal. AlterHéros was present at Community Day during Montreal Pride. AlterHéros.com’s traffic was over 8,000 visitors in the first month alone as public interest in the organization increased.
By December, more than 500 articles were available on the website, which concluded its first year with more than 31,000 visits.
In January, the organization launched its first volunteer recruitment campaign. The number of partners supporting the project continued to grow : Bill Ryan (through his Safe-Space project), Gai Écoute (now Interligne), Émissaire, Project 10, Jeunesse Lambda, GRIS Montréal, Gay Line and the Canadian Health Network all joined in the effort. AlterHéros also became a member of ALGI (Association des Lesbiennes et Gais sur Internet).
On March 3rd, 2003, Isabelle, Marc-Olivier and Waseem established themselves as the three official founders of AlterHéros.
After only 10 months, AlterHéros.com achieved 100,000 visits. In addition, the Artefact Group joined the team of AlterHéros collaborators. AlterHéros also officially joined the Montreal Coalition of LGBT Youth Groups.
In June, AlterHéros launched version 2.0 of the website with a new discussion group, a new section called “Local speakers” and a calendar of events. In addition, representatives of the STRUCTU.RE project collaborated with the organization and also joined the outreach team.
During the summer, the organization’s first official party with the Artefact group took place in participation with other Montreal youth groups in the festivities of Divers / Cité. For the first time, AlterHéros was part of the Montreal pride parade.
AlterHéros.com concluded 2003 with nearly 250,000 visitors.
AlterHéros partnered with Artefact’s musical project. Together, they organized a concert at the Théâtre National to celebrate sexual diversity.
In April, the first Annual General Meeting of AlterHéros was held at the LGBT Montreal Community Center. The organization launched the “AlterHéros Zone” portion of the website. Two Concordia interns joined the project.
That summer, over half a million visitors had accessed the site and the volunteer team was growing. In addition, at the Forces AVENIR gala, AlterHéros ranked among the top three projects in Quebec for the AVENIR Society, Communication and Education category. The organization was awarded $ 4,000. 30-second clips about AlterHéros were broadcast on the RCI channel. AlterHéros also embarked on a radio project with Longueuil CHAA 103.3 FM where Marc-Olivier presented a segment about the organization twice a month.
In the fall, AlterHéros participated in Quebec City Pride (Fête Arc-en-Ciel), and was also involved in the first États Généraux LGBT in Quebec City. Also, AlterHéros became a founding member of the Montreal Youth Coalition Against Homophobia, now known as the Montreal Coalition of LGBT youth groups.
In November, AlterHéros decided to change its internal structure to better adapt to the growth of the organization and the ever-increasing demand for its services. The Board of Directors decided to form four working teams : Writing, Intervention, Marketing and Development. The organization held a first volunteer recruitment activity at the CCGLM in Montreal.
AlterHéros received 6 nominations during the first edition of the Allostars Gala. We were nominated in the Organization of the Year category, and five AlterHéros volunteers were recognized with nominations in various categories. The AlterHéros team was involved in the first Montreal OutGames as a media partner.
By June, AlterHeros.com became a millionaire : more than 1,000,000 guests had visited the website since its launch in August of 2002. With site traffic steadily increasing, we recorded 671,000 visits to the website over the course of 2006.
To celebrate its 5th anniversary, AlterHéros launched the new “Volunteers in Action” section of site profiling the contributions of volunteers.
During the second edition of the Allostars Gala, AlterHéros received special mention from the jury. Many AlterHéros volunteers were also rewarded for their involvement within the organization or elsewhere in the community.
The outreach team split : Vi Nguyen took charge of the anglophone section of the site while François Paquette lead the francophone section. This reorganization immediately multiplied the quantity of published answers and reduced the time required to respond to submitted questions.
By August, AlterHéros organized the first-ever orientation event for its members and volunteers. The program included activities demonstrating how to get more involved with the organization, meet-and-greets with team leaders, trainings, and a lecture by Ms. Line Chamberland, Doctor of Sociology and Associate Professor at the UQAM Institute for Research and Feminist Studies. This marked the official beginning of the AlterHéros Retreat, an idea proposed earlier by Vi Nguyen. A second AlterHéros Retreat took place that November and included invited guest Michel Dorais, author and researcher.
In June, AlterHeros organized its annual general meeting during the 3rd AlterHeros Retirement. The 2008-2012 strategic plan is approved by the members of the organization. The site development works are being launched. AlterHeros is now relying on the support of the Center-Sud Community Economic Development Corporation (CDEC – now CDC Center-Sud).
At the 5th Retreat, AlterHéros receives Axel Léotard, a French trans author. In addition, Marc-Olivier Ouellet, founder, is chosen as a member of the jury of the 2009 edition of the Gala Arc-en-Ciel, organized by the Quebec Council of Gays and Lesbians – now known as the LGBT Quebec Council.
AlterHéros first unveiled the beta versions of four new websites to members during the sixth Retreat. The invited guest was Father Raymond Gravel, a great advocate for the rights of gay people in the Catholic Church. At the eighth AlterHéros Retreat, we were pleased to welcome speaker Michelle Blanc, a social media and web 2.0 expert.
AlterHéros won the “Groupe par excellence” award at the Gala Arc-en-Ciel. In addition, our editorial director Julie-Maude Beauchesne won the “Bénévole par excellence” award. Finally, our president-founder, Marc-Olivier Ouellet, was a finalist in the “Personnalité par excellence” category.
That winter, the new AlterHéros sites were ready for public launch. On December 4th, after almost three years of hard work, Marc-Olivier released four completely new websites : the social network AlterHeros.com, AlterCité, Tell the Experts and the site reserved for the association AlterHéros.org.
For the first time ever, AlterHéros organized an English-language Retreat in association with the DLP fraternity (Delta Lambda Phi) affiliated with McGill University.
In March, a second part-time paid position (Outreach Director) was created.
In November, after a few years spent in Côte-des-Neiges, AlterHéros moved to L’Astérisk, located in the Gay Village. This allowed us to get closer to our main clientele, improving the accessibility of activities and also connecting us to other organizations working with LGBTQ+ youth operating out of the shared space. An invigorating sense of renewal swept through AlterHéros.
2017 has been an important year for the organization. Our particularly dedicated and enthusiastic board of directors have updated an array of documents that are essential to the organization’s progress. Revisions were made to the general regulations, the code of ethics, our volunteer agreement, employment contracts, strategic planning timelines and more.
Having two autistic people on the board of directors and being aware of the urgent needs of neuroatypical individuals within the LGBTQ + communities, AlterHéros filed a project called Neuro/Diversities with the Bureau de lutte contre l’homophobie (The Office of the fight against homophobia). Justice Québec funded 90% of this innovative project, which allowed the organization to welcome new participants. Neuro/Diversities also allowed AlterHéros to form links with the Quebec Federation of Autism, the Autism Asperger Clinic in Montreal and Le Papillon Bleu Clinic. In addition, the organization had the opportunity to present “Neuro/Diversites: exploration of the intersection between neurodiversity and sexual and gender diversity” as part of the National Conference – LGBTTIQA2S Lives : Our Struggles, Our Victories, Our Challenges, associated with the first edition of Pride Canada in Montreal.
AlterHéros was also invited to host the very first Youth Safer Space during the Pride Montreal festivities. Coinciding with Pride, the organization celebrated its 15th anniversary at L’Euguélionne, a feminist library and community partner that has supported several events concerning sexual diversity and gender plurality.
AlterHéros’ 15th anniversary also marked the moment that a new version of the website was revealed to the public for the first time. The site redesign by Samuel Alexis Poliquin Communications was based on the look of the previous version, but has been updated to provide a more accessible and user-friendly experience for visitors.
We would first like to point out that AlterHeros is headquartered in Tio’tia:ke, on the stolen and unceded territory of the Kanien’keha:ka (Mohawk). Thes lands have long served as a place of gathering and exchange between nations. AlterHeros also recognizes its presence and the influence of its work on the various indigenous territories that make up what is called Quebec since colonization. AlterHeros, as an organization working on issues of gender and sexuality, recognizes the historical oppression of the territories and cultures as well as the sexual, gender and spiritual subjectivities of indigenous communities. We also wish to acknowledge that thousands of Afro-descendant people have been enslaved, displaced and criminalized in this same territory. The presence of Black Canadian communities is directly linked to the imperialism, capitalism and white supremacy that motivated the colonization of the United States and the Caribbean by Europeans. In this regard, the enslavement of Afro-descendant peoples was carried out in superposition to the logic of exploitation of stolen indigenous lands.
The AlterHeros team would like to encourage its members to take the time to learn about the indigenous history and the history of the Afro-descendant peoples of their territory. This hyperlink will allow you to verify – if you don’t already know – which indigenous and first nations occupied and still occupy the territory you are physically on today. We also invite you to read the various reports published by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
AlterHeros recognizes that colonization is closely linked to the implementation of an oppressive mode of social organization based, among other things, on racism, heteronormativity and cisnormativity. As a community-based LGBTQ+ youth organization, AlterHeros recognizes that the language of sexuality and gender we use is closely tied to Western, even white, conceptions and definitions of sexuality and, as such, may not be representative of the sexual, gender or spiritual subjectivities specific to indigenous communities and many ethno-cultural communities. AlterHeros also wishes to acknowledge the oppressions experienced and still experienced by Two-Spirit and/or LGBTQIA+ indigenous people, as well as racialized people of all gender, sexual orientation or body diversity.