TIMMINS -- It's the time of year to celebrate the 2SLGBTQ+ community, though Fierte Timmins Pride feels it's also an important time to look for solutions to the lack of support services in the city.

For group president Matt Villeneuve, that effort starts with hearing from the local community about what's missing.

"At this moment, we're trying to figure out exactly what the gaps are, so that we can fill them," Villeneuve said. "And if there's already a service taking place, we'll make sure to highlight it so that we are able to promote it."

The group received $125,000 from the federal agency Women and Gender Equality Canada to conduct a needs assessment study.

That involves a recently-launched online survey, as well as a town hall, focus groups and community interviews to be conducted in the coming months.

Share their experiences

Group officials said all members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community are welcome to share their experiences, concerns and suggestions, whether or not they still live in Timmins.

"We're looking at folks who have moved away as a result of not having access," said the group's treasurer, Julie Demarchi.

"The older 2SLGBTQ+ community that maybe have had to live a little more of a closeted life. We need these voices to be heard."

In the past, Villeneuve said people have expressed issues with getting transgender-inclusive medical care. Others have sought supports for dealing with problems at home, work or school related to their gender or sexual orientation, he said.

He and Demarchi said Timmins Pride tries to facilitate education, training and some level of support as much as it can with a volunteer team.

Not their expertise

But they said that's not their expertise. The group was founded to organize events and facilitate discussion, not provide specialized services.

This is why they are hoping the information collected from the study can build a solid case for government funding to create a dedicated social services organization that can address the needs of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

"Timmins Pride is committed to seeing this happen because we see the injustices and the lack of supports," Demarchi said.

It's an ambitious effort, she said, but one that she feels can become a reality as long as the whole community speaks out.

The more people who voice their thoughts, Demarchi said, the stronger position the group will be in to request funding.

"This is such an important piece right now, we need folks to come forward."