Meet Nadine Violette, the new 2SLGBTQIA+ wellness coordinator

2SLGBTQIA+ wellness coordinator Nadine Violette is seen in a portrait outside their home in Island View, N.B. on Jan. 21, 2022. Violette is filling in for Cassidy Wilson during her maternity leave. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

Nadine Violette likes to cook, is an avid Seinfeld fan and has a cat named after Phoebe Bridgers.

They will be filling in for Cassidy Wilson while she is on maternity leave as the 2SLGBTQIA+ wellness coordinator for the University of New Brunswick, St. Thomas University and New Brunswick Community College.

“I have about seven months to get a few projects done and serve as an advisor to queer and trans students and two-spirit students,” they said.

When they were a student at UNB back in 2015, Violette ran Qmunity, an LGBTQ+ group at the university where they established an infrastructure for advocacy in queer and transgender issues. When UNB’s Sexuality Center stopped running, Qmunity teamed up with counselling services to create the 203 Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity.

Even though the office is located at UNB, it is accessible to students from all three campuses.

Violette is working with a group of students from the queer, trans and people of colour communities at UNB and NBCC to put together an anti-oppression workshop. The content will take shape with the help of student experiences and be rooted in research and resources from groups like Black Lives Matter. 

This kind of work is in line with the research Violette did in grad school. Violette left UNB to study social justice education at the University of Toronto. They graduated from the master’s program a year and a half ago.

Before this position, Violette worked with Horizon Health as part of the pandemic response.

“I don’t have a background in counselling psychology, which is what Cassidy’s background was in, but [I have] a different skill set that I’m putting to use in a few projects,” said Violette.

They appreciate getting to work with a group of QTBIPOC students who are paid through a program led by Matthew MacLean, a counsellor at UNB and STU.

Violette said that work done in the past was focused on general education like terminology training. In their time as wellness coordinator, they want to bring some more specific discussions to campus.

“People are ready for a more in-depth conversation about queer and trans issues, especially from an intersectional standpoint,” said Violette.

They mentioned that racism, ableism and class intersect to create various student experiences, and institutions often make it worse.

In the upcoming weeks, they are hoping to connect to LGBTQ+ groups at STU.

Violette said they want to hear what STU students want, whether that be helping students advocate for something they need on campus or creating their own anti-oppression workshop.

“I know that STU has a pretty large queer and trans population,” they said. “So I’m sure that there are people who have ideas and I want to hear them.”

Violette will also be doing one-on-one advising. Students can go to them for help with personal wellbeing, academics, discrimination or to find other supports.

Their staff page includes an outlook calendar where students can book 30-minute virtual sessions.

“I’m kind of like a hub [and] older sibling, maybe, for undergrad students and also graduate students as well.”