U of S celebrates 20th 'Breaking the Silence' conference
Students take in the 20th annual Breaking the Silence conference at the U of S (Mark Villani/CTV Saskatoon)
Mark Villani , CTV Saskatoon
Published Saturday, March 18, 2017 2:16PM CST
More than 100 people of all sexual orientations and gender identities gathered Saturday morning at the 20th Annual "Breaking the Silence" conference.
The event held at the Edwards School of Business is the longest standing conference of its kind in Canada. Presenters aimed to improve the conversation in schools around sexual orientation.
"We started this because no one would raise issues around sexual orientation and we felt the university was the proper place to begin these discussions," said Don Cochrane, a retired professor from the University of Saskatchewan.
"We've managed to engage both professors, students, and community people and particularly high schools students, they represent about 40 per cent of the registered participants of this conference and what's more exciting is that they're coming from First Nations territories in the province," Cochrane said.
One of those high school students attending was 17-year-old, Blake Tait.
Tait identifies as transgender and said this conference has helped educate the community on a number of issues.
"It means the world, its so important because I was afraid when I was coming out to all my friends and everyone that I would ever meet wouldn't accept me," Tait said.
"It means a lot to have all these people who I know will definitely accept me for who I am."
Cochrane says the theme for this year's conference is "Looking back, moving forward."
"We've now discovered a whole range of sexualities and what is really pressing in our schools are issues of transgender and these are issues we're taking up on this conference," he said.
"Keep the conversation going, be fearless, be courageous, and step out of your comfort zone."