An example of the inclusivity sticker businesses can display on their windows. Submitted photo.
Nicholas L. M. Allen
Nov 29, 2023
In an unexpected turn of events, Amanda Slugoski found herself facing an incident that prompted her to consider a broader impact on the community.
In a recent interview with Amanda Slugoski, a Registered Psychologist and the Owner of Equinox Therapeutic and Consulting Services, she shared her unique journey of moving to the Crowsnest Pass and the initiatives she has undertaken in response to a recent incident.
Slugoski, a psychologist and writer, found herself and her common-law wife, Jacki, seeking refuge from pollution and the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the unseasonably warm city of Edmonton. Frustrated with the pollution and smog, they decided to escape to nature for some healing. After discovering an Airbnb in Blairmore, they were captivated by the area’s natural beauty, particularly the trails for skiing and running at Allison Lake Cross Country.
In an unexpected turn of events, Slugoski found herself facing an incident that prompted her to consider a broader impact on the community. She shared details of an unsettling occurrence involving damage to their property, which raised questions about whether it was a hate crime or not.
“Last Tuesday, November the 21 at about 10:45 a.m., my tenant was inside, but her windows are papered over, so she can’t see outside but she heard this big thump. She was busy setting up her shop, didn’t pay it much attention,” explained Slugoski, “She thought maybe it was something like a bird, but just didn’t really think about it. When she went to lock up the shop a couple of hours later she saw what had happened. So then she alerted me and I came down and looked at it.”
The act involved a person using a rock to repeatedly strike their window three times until it broke. She expressed concern over the incident after it was recognized it may potentially be a hate crime, as they had an “Everyone is welcome here” inclusivity sticker on the targeted window for the business Merch on Main.
Reflecting on the nature of the incident, Slugoski said, “I don’t know if it was or it wasn’t motivated by hate, but it certainly stimulated something really positive for me, and hopefully for the community.”
This positive response from members of the community after the incident led Slugoski to consider ways to increase visible allyship in the community, particularly on Main Street.
“All of a sudden, unsolicited, I had members of the queer community or family members of people in the queer community approaching me and telling me stories about what has happened or the fears that they have for their loved ones,” added Slugoski.
She shared stories she had heard from members of the queer community in the area, shedding light on their experiences and concerns, including that of a trans person who felt they had to relocate to be accepted.
Slugoski expressed her understanding, saying, “This happens everywhere, this is not unique in any way to the Pass. Overwhelmingly, my experience here as a queer person and as just a human is super-friendly. I think this place is just really heaven on Earth.”
She clarified that her primary focus is using her influence to foster a sense of safety and acceptance in the community. Amidst the challenges presented by the incident, Slugoski discovered an opportunity to address a broader issue within the community, prompting her to explore the potential for expanding her psychological services to Blairmore.
“The demand seems to be here... We do have Blairmore listed as one of our locations, and I have started to get phone calls. We’re not marketing for Blairmore, but I am getting phone calls from people asking if they could have psych services here,” said Slugoski.
The website for her practice is equinoxtherapeutic.com. The incident not only prompted considerations of expanding her psychological services but also inspired Amanda to start a broader community-driven effort.
“What it got me doing is look around and see there are very few visible allyship indicators in the Pass,” said Slugoski.
She has started approaching local businesses with a proposal to display stickers or other indicators of support. The response from businesses was overwhelmingly positive according to Slugoski.
“We’ve got four stores already that have a sticker in hand and have committed to putting it up in their window,” said Slugoski. The stores include The Pantry, Stones Throw Cafe, Chakras, and Kind Rat.
However, she acknowledged the importance of approaching the initiative with sensitivity and respect for the existing community dynamics.
“If someone tries to reduce me or reduce those around me, I do my best to find it within me to get bigger,” said Slugoski.
The initiative goes beyond a mere response to the incident; it is Slugoski’s commitment to fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone in the community.
“My wonderful neighbor and I have decided to try to launch a Crowsnest queer society to offer support and allyship to anyone, so both to members of the community as well as allies as a place to hang out, connect and then ultimately a place for resources of some sort, community gatherings and possibly small allyship projects,” said Slugoski.
She encouraged anyone who wishes to be part of the inclusivity campaign to reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org if they have questions.
Edits: The printed version of the story said the window was broken three times, but the window was only struck three times and broke once. "Jacki" was mispelled "Jackie" as well.