Jay Koornstra moved to Ottawa in Sept 2000 to take on the role of Executive Director of Bruce House. He came with over two decades of advocacy first identifying as a 2SLGBTQ+ activist at York University in Toronto. He participated in many events promoting equality for our community including: the 1977 protest of the Montreal police raids of two bars Le Mystique and Truxx; and the 1981 protest of the Toronto Bathhouse Raids. As HIV/AIDS came to the forefront, he identified as an AIDS activist and volunteered with many AIDS Services Organizations, including AIDS Action Now. He also worked for two ASOs in a leadership capacity starting in 1996.
Upon arriving in Ottawa, Jay immediately reached out to the various 2SLGBTQ+ organizations and sought out the many visible community leaders to learn more from those who had the ‘Ottawa’ experience that he lacked at the time. He made many efforts to participate with as many advocacy issues locally, provincially, federally and internationally. He also co-chaired (7 yrs.) the SITE (needle exchange) advisory committee to the medical officer of health and served on both provincial and national governing boards.
Jay recognized the need for inclusivity and made many efforts to instill understanding and collaboration amongst the various organizational groups and clubs in Ottawa. He is proud of his participation with the Ottawa Gay Men’s Health and Wellness Coalition which later morphed into Gay Zone Gai. He championed many other social justice issues such as housing and homelessness, poverty and trans rights. He has given up his previous identity labels realizing that he was merely a social justice advocate and sometimes warrior. Jay is grateful to have been the Grand Marshal of the 2013 Capital Pride • Fierté dans la Capitale parade and sat on the committee of the revived Pride organization in 2015 – 2016.
Although older and retired, Jay says he is not ready to be put out to pasture and continues to be an active advocate.