Tag Archives: Supreme Court of Canada

An ode to one particular mother

{We want to give a shout out to the tremendous queer culture coming to Calgary this month: the Unison LGBTQ2 Choir Festival, May 18-21; and Fairy Tales “Twenty,” May 25 – June 2!}

When we started the Calgary Gay History Project in 2012, we had no idea the journey it would take us on. Currently, we are working with filmmaker Laura O’Grady from Spotlight Productions on a short film about the life of Everett Klippert. This week, we travelled with cinematographer Patrick McLaughlin, to Everett’s niece Katherine’s farm, three hours from Calgary. Everett requested to be buried here next to his beloved sister Leah (also Katherine’s mom): stalwart defender of Everett in his protracted tangle with the Canadian state.

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Everett Klippert’s headstone. He is buried next to his sister Leah and brother-in-law David.

It was Leah, a legal secretary in Calgary, who fought Everett’s unjust incarceration and categorization as a dangerous sexual offender.

It was Leah, who gathered the resources and expertise to challenge court decisions, pushing Klippert’s case forward to the Supreme Court.

It was Leah, who travelled to the Northwest Territories to support him at trial, and who visited him regularly in the Prince Albert Penitentiary.

It was Leah, 20 years older than Everett, who acted as a mother to Everett when they lost their mother to kidney disease in 1933. Everett was then six years old.

So on this Mother’s Day Weekend, we would propose a toast to Leah, mother to many, and mother to a better world for Canada’s LGBTQ2 community.

Klippert Family Photos 1940s

Klippert family photo: Front row: Merton Klippert (Everett’s father), Everett and Leah. Back row: Everett’s seven older brothers!

{KA}

A moment for Vriend on Monday…

April 2, 2018, marks the 20th Anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Vriend v Alberta, which made discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal across Canada.

Twenty years ago, I remember a jubilant Thursday evening. My co-workers at A-Channel did not seem to think it was such a big deal. They bemusedly tried to peel me off the ceiling so I could focus on my job, lighting the evening news. When I made it to a gay bar that night, it felt like the weekend came early, combined with Mardi Gras, Halloween and Christmas.

Vriend kiss

Delwin Vriend, right, gets a congratulatory kiss from partner Andrew Gagnon at a post-verdict rally at the Edmonton Legislature. [Photo Credit: The Canadian Press/Kevin Frayer]

Our post about the Vriend case in 2017 was one of the most read articles on the Calgary Gay History Project website to date. In honour of the 20th Anniversary, some new work has been written about the trials. Of particular note, is the accomplished Paula Simons and her work in the Edmonton Journal:

How the Vriend case established LGBTQ rights 20 years ago in Alberta — and across Canada

Gay rights pioneer Delwin Vriend didn’t set out to a be hero. He became one anyway.

From the Archives: The Vriend case is about bigotry

On March 19th, the University of Alberta hosted a forum and panel discussion for the Vriend anniversary (which Simons also moderated) called Pride or Prejudice? Celebrating LGBTQ2 RightsThe panel featured many of the legal minds working on the case in the 90s. This discussion of LGBTQ2 legal history was recorded for those of us who could not make it to Edmonton and is posted online.

The video is recommended viewing. There are many colourful recollections from the panellists that develop the story of the legal tussles encountered. Moreover there are interesting anecdotes, like Vriend v Alberta being cited internationally, such as in a recent court challenge in Belize which struck down their anti-sodomy laws in 2016.

So on Monday, take a moment to be thankful for the Vriend decision, and to all those who assisted in carrying us to victory some 20 years ago. Pause also to consider the approximately 400 million LGBTQ2 persons globally who live under the threat of criminal imprisonment, violence or even death because of who they are and who they love.

{KA}

 

 

Klippert Month – Week 1

We at the Calgary Gay History Project hope the Federal Government is still working on a posthumous pardon or equivalent for Calgarian Everett Klippert (1926-1996). November 7th, 2017, will be the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling, which fully criminalized gays, and precipitated the legislated decriminalization of homosexuality.

So to recognize that milestone in Canadian LGBTQ2 history, we are posting Everett articles all month!

One of the facts presented in his defence, at virtually all of his court cases, was his steadiness as an employee. Everett left school after grade 8 to work and to support his family. His older sister Leah ran their household and he and his eight brothers were required to hand over their wages to Leah for expenses.

Everett’s father operated a grocery store in Bridgeland, and Everett’s first job was working in the shop along with some of his older brothers. By the time he was 17, he was working at Crystal Dairy, the ice cream division of Calgary’s Union Milk Company. He said that it was when he started working there that he became sexually active with other men.

Crystle Dairy

The Union Milk Company at 130 – 5th Avenue SE in June 1950. Source: Glenbow Archives.

After nine years employed at the dairy, he got a job he loved more, driving buses for Calgary Transit. He was a favourite bus driver too. There are stories of his regular passengers skipping earlier buses to specifically ride home with him due to his friendly, congenial nature.

bus break
Everett Klippert used to go attend bus driver coffee brakes like this one in Eau Claire. Source City Archives via Calgary Metro.

At his first trial in Calgary in 1960 his defence lawyer, W. P. Maguire noted that Klippert “had been steadily employed for 17 years and but for his weakness (sex with men) he would be, at 33, a normal run of the mill man, married with children.” For that reason, he urged a punishment of probation only and not incarceration

Sadly, he was sentenced and served a four-year jail term. When Everett was released in 1964, he quickly departed town both to start over and to spare his family any more shame. He made his way to a job in Pine Point, North West Territories on a lead from a friend and secured a position as a garage mechanic’s helper at the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada, Limited (which was renamed Cominco Ltd. in 1966).

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Everett Klippert worked in the garage at Pine Point from May 1964 until he was arrested in August 1965. Photo: Pine Point Revisited.

He was arrested and tried again for homosexual activity in 1965. At his trial, Everett’s garage foreman, Melvin Logan, was called as a witness on behalf of the defence. When asked about Everett’s performance, the foreman said: “He was very good, a very willing worker, hard worker, easy to get along with, very cooperative. He got along with everyone in the shop very well – no trouble at all.” Furthermore, it was revealed that Everett was friendly with the Logan family. He would go over for supper occasionally and was trusted to babysit the two small Logan children.

During both times Everett was in the penitentiary, he worked in the shoe shop. One of the psychiatrists who interviewed Klippert in 1965 reported:

“I talked to the man in the shoe shop with whom Mr. Klippert worked, and he gave an excellent report; that he is a good worker; that he minded his own business; that he is a sensitive man. He spoke very highly of him. He also informed me that he found life in the penitentiary extremely painful to him because I think he is a sensitive man and some of his colleagues are, well less than that and I think they made life a little bit, considerably rough and difficult for him.”

Klippert copy

Everett Klippert in stripes. Source: Klippert Family Photo.

Tragically, this difficulty would be long-lived. Klippert would remain in jail until 1971 for no known reason, even though Parliament decriminalized homosexuality in 1969 as a result of his unjust prison sentences.

{KA}