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Narrowing the gap with Queer Business Collective Canada

Former Kamloops resident working on national peer support platform

A former Kamloops resident is advocating for a national platform for the Queer Business Collective to foster peer-to-peer support, networking and collaboration, as well as client referrals for entrepreneurs across the country.

Melissa Toews and wife, Lauren Toews have created a private Facebook group for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or gender expansive, queer and/or questioning, intersex, asexual, and two-spirit (LGBTQIA2S+) community to build out their networks.

“My wife just opened her own business, so, as an entrepreneur, I was looking around and I noticed there wasn’t an informal community for queer folks to connect across Canada, whether they were business owners, entrepreneurs or aspiring to be one of those,” Melissa told KTW. “I felt it was important to have that opportunity for people to join.”

Lauren's business, Diverse Dialogues, is a multi-faceted mental health company that offers counselling services for individuals and mental health counselling for businesses through a trauma-informed practice lens. Lauren is founder and chief executive officer, while Melissa is a volunteer board member and chief empathy officer.


Melissa is a registered psychiatric nurse who holds certifications in addictions, mental health, critical incident and stress management and workplace psychological health and safety, as well as trauma-informed practice. She uses their website for phone, virtual or in-person appointments.

Lauren is a nutritional coach and personal trainer who is responsible for all business operations The business provides virtual or phone appointments.

Melissa believes her and Lauren's ties to Kamloops have heavily influenced their Vancouver-based business model.

“We grew up in Kamloops for the most part and it was difficult to find a sense of community as a queer person,” Melissa said. “People generally face this challenge through their whole lives in most spaces so we felt it was important to create an inclusive and safe space where people can connect, have dialogue and support each other.”

The duo quickly noticed that while there are community groups in various parts of the country, there weren’t any options to scale up nationally. For the time being, they are encouraging the LGBTQIA2S+ community to join the Facebook group and discuss what services might be important to them.

“Our initial thoughts were to host an online community, but it really depends on who joins the group and what they’re looking for,” Melissa said. “We can go with the flow in that regard, whether people want to get together in their local areas or if they want to get together somewhere else in the future. We’re definitely open to what the community wants to do.”

To join the private Facebook group, visit the Queer Business Collective Canada at