Supporting LGBTQI2S at Holland Bloorview

An interview with Randy Mulder

After Randy Mulder, a Therapeutic Recreation Assistant at Holland Bloorview, got in touch with me following devastating events that shook up the LGBTQI2S community in Canada and abroad, I knew that I wanted to hear more. I wanted to understand  how he was feeling and if there was anything we could do to ensure staff felt supported and had a safe space to connect and voice their feelings.

Randy and I met, we brought in Chief People and Culture Officer Tracey Millar and held a workshop facilitated by psychotherapist, Sly Sarkisova, at The 519. From there, Randy grabbed the reins and Holland Bloorview’s LGBTQI2S community network was born.

With Meenu Sikand’s arrival at Holland Bloorview as Executive Lead Equity, Diversity and Inclusion we are hoping that other community networks will grow and thrive building on Randy’s initiative.

In honour of Pride Month, I asked Randy answer a few questions about himself and the network.


1. What is the last book you read? Last show you streamed? Last movie you saw in a theatre?

I am reading Blackening Canada: Diaspora, Race, Multiculturalism by Paul Barrett, which I found at the U of T bookstore.  When I want to keep informed or need to dig deeper into sex, sexuality, religion, world politics, I read books about philosophy and sociology to get a better sense of what is going on locally, nationally, and internationally.  For creativity, I collect and read comics and graphic novels.

I love watching Star Trek again and again and again.  Star Trek shows are my security blanket.  They get me through life!  Mostly streaming through Netflix.

I watched Godzilla: King of the Monsters. This movie brought back memories of old Japanese sci-fi films.

2. Do you use any social media? Why or why not?

I used to use Facebook often and as the years went by I use it less frequently as it has become more about ads, memes and seems to have a negative vibe.  I do like keeping in touch with family abroad as I have family in the Netherlands, British Columbia, and Alberta.

Facebook Messenger is my favourite for communication as it does not have ads and memes and your conversations are more private.  I like sharing images and stories with people 1-on-1 rather than posting on Facebook.  Privacy and building strong interpersonal relationships with family and friends come with huge benefits with regards to empathy, compassion, and grace.  I spend less time on social media and more time in my communities, especially the 519 Community Centre and Gay Village.  Being informed and volunteering my time locally is of the utmost importance for my life and survival.

The social media site I enjoy the most is YouTube. I also like video games, computers, and anything technology.

3. Who have been your biggest influences?

My friends and family are very supportive. My life coach, Cecile Peterkin, has been my greatest influence and an asset to understanding who I am and how I should live my life to its fullest potential as an artist, teacher, and therapeutic recreationist.

4. What do you appreciate most in your friends?

Support.  Unconditional love. Time.

My friends have pulled me through some struggles over the years with the loss of my father, and close friends in the LGBTQI2S community.  They got me through to having fun again!

5. What’s your favourite thing to do?

I love walking throughout Toronto. My max was an 18 km walk to the Scarborough Bluffs from downtown and beyond.  I love drawing and painting. Socializing in the gay village is my main love.

6. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Getting into Teacher’s College.  It was one of the most difficult goals I ever succeeded in achieving. It took me almost a year to work out how I would answer questions on the applications. I really struggled with my learning disabilities and ADHD back then.  I really didn’t believe in myself or what I could actually achieve. My life coach, professors, learning strategist and school counsellors at OCADU, friends and family supported me and I fell to my knees in tears when I got into UOIT! My life changed forever after that.

7. What do you like the most about working at Holland Bloorview? What would you like us to do better?

I love being able to collaborate on projects with other team members across disciplines.  I love being able to apply my art practice, teaching practice into therapeutic recreation programs!

More examples, scenarios, support and education on the importance of collaboration would be amazing.

8. How did you end up working at Holland Bloorview and what do you do here? What would surprise people most about your job?

I began volunteering at Holland Bloorview in Therapeutic Recreation and Bloorview School Authority with school teacher Paul Alcomo.  Paul has been a great influence in me going to teacher’s college and therapeutic recreation.  The recreation staff liked my volunteer work so much that they told to me to apply for work and I still work as a therapeutic recreation assistant today.

I think people would be surprised by the varied programs I have to make to accommodate the needs of our clients and the amount of freedom I have to adjust programs for the needs of the kids. For example, clients may need hand over hand support to make art with a paint brush, may need a brush adapted to suit their needs, may need a larger canvass, or may even need more emotional support.

9. Tell me about the LGBTQI2S community network initiative you launched at Holland Bloorview? What motivated you? What more do you want to achieve?

I created this LGBTQI2S support and dialogue meeting forum for staff to share their stories and their struggles and successes in life.  When the violence towards gay people at Pulse night club occurred and serial killer Bruce McArthur was caught in Toronto, the gay community was reeling in years of pain and sorrow.  I wrote an email to the CEO at Holland Bloorview, Julia Hanigsberg, about these tragedies and we met to look for a support system for people at Holland Bloorview.  Immediately we thought support meetings throughout the year would benefit staff with regards to any pain or sorrow they may have in their life.

I would hope to see more initiative from other staff to create their own meetings or events that would fulfil their needs for positivity and success.

10. What advice would you give someone at Holland Bloorview who wanted to launch their own community network initiative?

I would suggest they meet with the CEO, Julia Hanigsberg, to begin the process of brainstorming what that may look like for them.  Julia has the positivity and experience in these areas to be a strong influence in how they can achieve this goal and implement a successful plan.  There is strength in numbers with regards to support in community networks.

11. What does Pride Month mean to you? What is your favourite thing to do during Pride?

Pride Month brings together the whole country and beyond.  Local communities can connect and share their ideas and events that create a more diverse and inclusive world for people in the LGBTQI2S world.  Allies can join in the support and fun.  Intersectionality, sex, and sexuality are terms to focus on, teach about, and experience hands-on with regards to making the world a better place to live and work together!

I love to go the 519 Community Centre to support all walks of life and I love to dance and socialize!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s