If you’re a teen growing up in Saskatoon, particularly in the 2SLGBTQ+ community, chances are you’ve seen Topaza Yu’s work.
The third year kinesiology student at the University of Saskatchewan has spent hundreds of hours volunteering for sexual rights causes in her community.
She is part of Action Canada’s National Youth Advisory Board, serves as Vice Chair on the Board of Directors with SWITCH (Student Wellness Initiative Towards Community Health), and this past year even found time to lead an awareness campaign (www.testforyou.ca) about the benefits of annual STI testing for young people.
“Growing up as a teen in Saskatoon I found that resources and information around sexual rights and reproductive health were really not very accessible,” said Yu. “So my goal in volunteering has been pretty simple – to make sure local youth, particularly in the 2SLGBTQ+ community where there can be a lot of barriers, have good information, especially online, and access to credible and up-to-date resources on sexual rights and reproductive health.”
The 20-year-old Saskatoon native’s efforts recently earned her the RBC BreakOUT award, presented at OUTSaskatoon’s March 20 Glitter Gala.
The RBC BreakOUT award is awarded to someone aged 13-25 who has impacted the gender and sexually diverse community and made a significant contribution to the growth and development of a strong and vibrant 2SLGBTQ+ community.
“This award fuels me to keep progressing sexual rights and reproductive health, both locally and nationally,“ said Yu. “It’s so important that young people know their rights when they see a health care provider, and that they have access to webinars, online tools and other content that is accessible and youth-friendly.”
Other dedicated Saskatoon volunteers taking home awards at the Gala (called the RBC OUTShine Awards) included Dave Culleton, who received the RBC OUTStanding award for his years of service on OUTSaskatoon’s Board of Directors, and Tuk Gordon, who received the RBC HelpOUT award for his commitment to Prairie Harm Reduction’s drop-in centre.