Saskatoon LGBT activist and advocate, Gens Hellquist has died at age 65.

Hellquist founded Saskatoon’s earliest gay organization and spent his life providing services to LGBT people and promoting the acceptance of sexual and gender diversity.

Throughout his life Hellquist formed many activist groups including Saskatoon Gay Liberation and Gay & Lesbian Health Services. He worked with police to stop gay bashing and in March of 2001 he created the Canadian Rainbow Health Coalition.

Hellquist was also a staunch defender of LGBT rights, and took a firm stand against hate speech and inequality.

In recent years he worked closely with Saskatoon's Avenue Community Centre and AIDS Saskatoon.

Jai Richards runs the Avenue Community Centre and knew Hellquist well.

"I think it is a huge loss for our community, not just locally, but provincially and nationally," said Richards. "He was a force to be reckoned with for sure. I think those of us who are following in his footsteps have big shoes to fill."

Gens' brother, Wayne Hellquist, is a well known figure in Regina, who headed the city's food bank for nearly a decade. 

Wayne, who was in charge when the food bank opened its first commercial kitchen, stepped down as CEO of the organization last year. In his time there, he helped set up educational programming and an on-site grocery store. 

Hellquist is also survived by another brother, Terry Hellquist.