We sat down with our June Luncheon keynote, Lara Rae, Co-founder of The Winnipeg Comedy Festival and award-winning writer, comedian and public speaker to talk about her career, her experience as part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community and what members can look forward to hearing at our luncheon.
WCC: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into your field.
Lara Rae (LA): After I left Winnipeg Comedy Fest after 19 years I wanted to combine my passions for social justice work with my love of cooking. I started a food program called PANTRY and for a year I made food for people in our community serving it through bear clan patrols. This led to my current job with West Broadway. My basic philosophy is I serve things I would eat. Good, fresh, nutritious food that warms belly and soul.
WCC: What has been your favourite moment in your career so far and why?
LA: When people are struggling to survive yet ask me for recipes or make requests for dishes. I have provided food for many people’s birthdays and funerals free of charge resources through small donations and food I get from Harvest and COOP of which I am very grateful.
WCC: You are such a strong advocate for the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Has this been difficult for you at times?
LA: When I get pushed to the point of going public to advocate for myself or others it can bring negative comments from strangers and bigots which are hard on your self-esteem. Trans people are victims of abuse constantly and it wears you down.
WCC: This past year has been difficult and many have struggled with their mental health and overall wellbeing. How have you continued to advocate for yourself and others?
LA: I am good at advocating for others but the amount of suffering is overwhelming and I have had to go on stress leave due to the overwhelming impact it has on me. People do not do enough to alleviate suffering. Basic income and addiction support are crucial.
WCC: You were recognized as one of the Manitoba 150 Nellie McClung Trailblazer Recipients for your community work. What did this mean to you?
LA: Anytime I am validated for this kind of work and also my gender is affirmed I am very proud. Awards are useful sometimes for social capital but they mean way less to me than they once did.
WCC: What can our members expect to learn from you at our upcoming June Luncheon?
LA: That people are people and that if you do not listen to the lived experience of people you are caring for or want to help you will be party to so many biases and prejudices you have no idea you have. Any power you enjoy must be used to uplift others or you are abusing your power.
How are you promoting diversity? Increasing familiarity with our differences can alter perspectives, facilitate acceptance and diminish the misconceptions and prejudices that fuel discrimination.
Join us on June 17th for our sixth annual Celebrate Winnipeg Luncheon event where Lara Rae will address the audience on what exactly it means to celebrate Winnipeg and diversity.