Legacy of Pride: MJ Pride Executive Director Steps Down
Joe Wickenhauser, co-founder and Executive Director for Moose Jaw Pride, has announced that he will be stepping down from his position this September after 7 years of service to the community.
Kelly Carty, Chair of Moose Jaw Pride’s Board said, “Moose Jaw Pride is the organization it is today because of the work done by Joe Wickenhauser. We would like to thank Joe for his tireless efforts to lift up the LGBTQ+ community in Moose Jaw and throughout the province.”
Wickenhauser said that his experience working with Moose Jaw Pride has provided him with many opportunities that would not have had elsewhere.
“I’ve worked with so many incredible volunteers, put my skills to work, and really come of age in this role. It’s been super gratifying to have an idea and work with others to bring it to life.”
After working on many different projects across Saskatchewan, Wickenhauser said it was his work leading diversity training workshops that he is most proud of: “It’s been such a privilege to see people in smaller communities begin to understand these issues. You can see the spark in their eyes like something clicks. I’m filled with hope and gratitude.”
Wickenhauser said he had been contemplating a career change over the past year and had been discussing the transition with the organization’s executive over the past few months.
“Non-profit work is tremendously rewarding and extremely difficult. I honestly believe that it is both healthy and truly vital for community organizations to change leadership and empower new voices as they grow.”
Wickenhauser said that he feels tremendously grateful to those that supported him and the organization over the years. “So many staff, volunteers, sponsors, and friends have given so much to help to make this community more accepting, more open, and more loving. I can’t thank them enough.”
While he is proud of the work that he has done, Wickenhauser knows there is still much to be accomplished on human rights issues relating to LGBTQ+ newcomers, two spirit folks, the trans community, as well as LGBTQ+ elders and people living with disabilities. “My hope is that our community feels empowered to take on this work and that my absence will create opportunity for others who are wanting to get more involved.”
After taking some personal time to travel in India, Wickenhauser plans to pursue a job opportunity out of province.
Carty said that Wickenhauser “will be missed as a leader, a mentor and a friend. We wish him all the best as he forges a new path and we know he will continue to enrich the lives of others as he has here in Moose Jaw.”
“It’s bittersweet to let go of a dream job, a loving community, and a place I call home, but at the same time, I can’t wait to start a new journey and to see how the organization takes shape under new leadership,” said Wickenhauser.
Wickenhauser encouraged anyone interested in submitting an application for the job as Executive Director of Moose Jaw Pride to visit the job posting online at www.moosejawpride.ca/work. Applicants are required to submit a detailed cover letter and resume by July 29 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legacy of Pride
Wickenhauser’s work in Moose Jaw’s LGBTQ+ community began in 2010 when he started a master’s program at York University that focused on Moose Jaw’s LGBTQ+ community history. Some familiar with his research asked him to organize a Pride Event in 2013 at the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre and he became a founding member of the Moose Jaw Pride board which incorporated the following year.
In 2014, Wickenhauser helped to coordinate the “Time 4 Rights” campaign which advocated for explicit protections for transgender people in the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. By 2015, Wickenhauser led Moose Jaw’s first “pride march” in Crescent Park which led him to organize the city’s first Pride Parade on Main Street in 2016.
Wickenhauser’s interest in LGBTQ+ history led to numerous public lectures and events on the topic including the Hidden Histories Trolley Tour in Moose Jaw, as well as the Homo Hike and Greystone Secrets walking tours in Saskatoon. Wickenhauser’s work as a guest researcher at the Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery also culminated in the development of Saskatchewan’s first permanent LGBTQ+ museum exhibit.
That same year, Moose Jaw Pride received funding from the Community Initiatives Fund to open a drop-in centre in St. Andrew’s United Church and to support LGBTQ+ community development across southern Saskatchewan. Within 6 months, the organization received additional funding to establish the Saskatchewan Pride Network.
In 2017, Wickenhauser worked with the Prairie South School Division to develop Canada’s first high school credit course on gender and sexual diversity.
Last year, Moose Jaw Pride was selected as the winner of a contest to open a business at 345 Main Street, leading to the creation of the Rainbow Retro Thrift Shop. That same year the organization was given permission to paint a city bench in rainbow colours. This year, Wickenhauser led a project to develop an LGBTQ+ community history mural on the back of the building.
Since 2018, Wickenhauser has served as Secretary to the Board at Fierté Canada Pride, a national organization of Pride organizers.
Over the years, Wickenhauser’s work earned him a CBC Saskatchewan Future 40 Award, a Heritage Award from the City of Saskatoon, and a nomination as Citizen of the Year in Moose Jaw.
Photo credit: Dan Mason