Anik Dennie, a recent graduate of the Masters of Human Kinetics program, received the Research Innovation Award during Research Week 2019 for her work with Dr. Joël Dickinson on the LGBTQ2-S Safe Space Training. Safe Space Training is an initiative that came out of the 2012 Sexuality and Gender Diversity Climate Survey conducted by Laurentian’s Sexuality and Gender Diversity Committee which highlighted resources needed on campus for members of the LGBTQ2-S community. Safe Space Training provides participants with the necessary knowledge for them to be an open and accepting resource for members of the LGBTQ2-S community. During this training, participants are taught about the nuances of sexuality and gender identity. These workshops familiarize participants with internal policies, procedures, and resources as well as off-campus resources to provide to members of the LGBTQ2-S community who may seek support. Participants who have completed the training receive a sticker which they can put on their office doors indicating that they are able to provide a safe space for anyone in need.
Anik started working on the Safe Space Training after being approached by Dr. Dickinson to provide training in French. When Dr. Dickinson became interim Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Anik became the head trainer for Safe Space Training and has provided workshops within Sudbury, at Cambrian College, the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Conseil scolaire catholique du Nouvel-Ontario, and the Rainbow District School Board. Anik also had the opportunity to travel and provide workshops outside of Sudbury; she recently offered a workshop at the University of Moncton.
Since completing her Masters this spring, Anik is looking to turn Safe Space Training into a personal business and to continue to provide workshops for the community. One of Anik’s goals is to provide workshops within the mining sector, a sector needing more LGBTQ2-S awareness. Having grown up in a mining family, she is familiar with the sector and hopes to help shift the conversation on homophobia and acceptance within this large base of employees, which would have a ripple effect within Greater Sudbury.
In April 2019, Anik successfully defended her thesis, entitled “The effects of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in high school physical education classes, school sports and community sports on future sports and physical activity participation: a retrospective study.” In her thesis, she compared trends of homophobia in Northern Ontario with the rest of the province. Through her research, she found that LGBT youth in Northern Ontario tend to experience homophobic events more frequently, and that people were also less likely to step in when these events did happen compared to non-LGBT youth. In consequence, they reported a lower level of physical activity. When comparing genders, boys were more likely to report being called homophobic slurs which were perceived by others as a way to motivate them and entice better participation. Anik’s thesis was one of the first of its kind since similar research studies only focused on homophobia in elite athletes.
Anik is passionate about community health and has volunteered for organizations that work with individuals at risk, such as the Out of the Cold Dinner Program that is organized by St. Andrew’s United Church. In her work, Anik wants to be a voice for those who have not yet found theirs, especially within the LGBTQ2-S community.