Saitsa LGBTQ+ Club recognized for commitment to cross-campus connections

Saitsa's LGBTQ+ Club receives 2022 President's Student Leadership Award

Close connections build strong communities — something Saitsa’s LGBTQ+ Club understands. The club works with resilience, dedication and passion to create a safe and welcoming community for anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ or an ally. They do this through a commitment to facilitate long-lasting and genuine friendships across campus that celebrate love, compassion, diversity, differences and acceptance.

“The main inspiration for the club was COVID,” shares Hana Hossain, co-founder, and former VP. “It was a very lonely time for a lot of people, especially people within the LGBTQ+ community. So, we wanted to make sure people knew we existed and that students within the community knew they had a place, even during COVID and the lockdowns.”

Hossain and fellow co-founder Dawson Thomas formed Saitsa’s LGBTQ+ Club in October 2020 after they both noticed a need for a pride club that created long-term support services for SAIT students.

“Pride clubs in the past had fallen flat,” says Hossain. “They weren’t able to get succession within leadership because often leaders graduated quickly. Our intention with this club was to create a long-lasting club that wouldn’t have to be remade and could continue to support students in difficult times.”

Starting a group focused on creating connections and offering support during the height of the pandemic was no easy task. Still, Hossain, Thomas and their fellow club members worked tirelessly to deliver on their mission. Throughout the pandemic, the club hosted online events and offered support to students in any way they could, and despite the difficulties, the club managed to thrive.

“COVID pushed us forward; it didn’t act as a barrier,” she says. “It made us realize that no matter what, things could be worse, and even when things are bad, we can still push through and show our commitment to the club.”

With restrictions on in-person events and increased online activity, the club saw an opportunity to build awareness through social media. An awareness that turned into high levels of maintained engagement throughout the pandemic on platforms such as Discord.

“We used COVID as an opportunity to post online,” Hossain shares. “We posted a lot online! COVID served as an opportunity because everyone was online for so many hours a day anyway, and that came to our advantage because when we went back to campus, people recognized our posts and knew about our events.”

That familiarity helped double the club’s membership when students returned to campus for hybridized courses, and in-person event restrictions were lifted. Since then, the club has secured '88 Legacy funding to create a new and unique program, Threads That Thrive. Lead by member Cassidy El Darazi, this initiative provides students battling gender dysphoria with a safe space to learn to sew, make clothes and feel comfortable with themselves.

For the club’s incredible community-building efforts throughout the pandemic and their future-focused initiatives, Saitsa’s LGBTQ+ Club was awarded SAIT’s 2022 President's Student Leadership Award.

“It just feels amazing that we are being recognized on a school-wide level,” shares Hossain. “That hard work we’ve done really pays off, and now we just have to work even harder and do more for our community. But that’s our favorite thing to do, so it’s okay, and we’re very excited!”