Shandi Strong has been giving back to her community for over 30 years. As a transgender rights activist, author, public speaker, and aspiring politician, Shandi’s dedication knows no bounds. She has been a resilient inspiration to her community in Winnipeg and beyond, known for organizing and contributing to some of the city’s biggest events and programs.
When Shandi came out as transgender and began her transition, she lost a 15-year career, a 20-year marriage and her two daughters. She was left to rebuild her life without immediate support. Through her endless perseverance, Shandi came through these difficult times and was able to channel her own life experiences into helping others navigate trying times and reconnect with her daughters.
Over the years, Shandi has cemented her role as a leader in the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Since 2017, she has been a volunteer at Big Brothers Big Sisters Winnipeg and helped the organization launch its PRISM (Pride, Respect, Identity, Safety and Mentoring) program. A first of its kind for Manitoba, and pilot program for Canada, PRISM pairs 2SLGBTQ+ children and youth with mentors from the 2SLGBTQ+ community for a one-on-one mentoring relationship. Shandi knows that by fostering relationships between mentees and mentors within this community, it will help to boost self-esteem and establish relationships with other 2SLGBTQ+ individuals to minimize isolation, confusion, and loneliness.
Shandi’s list of accomplishments speaks for itself. In 2016, she was the first openly transgender person in Western Canada to run for provincial office. She also served as a vice-president of the Oscar Wilde Memorial Society, creating safe spaces for the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and as a board member on Pride Winnipeg, Manitobans for Human Rights, and Our Own Health Centre. In addition, she helped organize the local Trans Day of Remembrance for several years and spearheaded Manitoba’s first-ever Trans March.
As a proud transgender woman and a powerhouse role model within her community, Shandi is carving out a rich legacy built on love, selflessness, and acceptance.
BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS OF WINNIPEG
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Winnipeg provides services and programs to help youth overcome societal barriers and adversities in their lives. The organization is built on the power of mentorship and pairs youth with mentors to help guide and support them in realizing their full potential. Specific agendas within Big Brothers Big Sisters of Winnipeg, like the PRISM mentorship program, which acts within the 2SLGBTQ+ community, are a powerful tool to help youth develop and nurture their own authentic sense of self.