A record turnout at Saturday’s Pride parade and festival, along with events during the week, is a sign attitudes are changing, organizers say.
A total of about 400 people took part this year, 280 at the parade and festival and 118 at the events during the week. The parade itself snaked through residential streets Saturday, stretching as long as a city block. For the LGBTQ+ community, that just shows how far Prince Albert has come.
“We’re amazed by the turnout,” said Prince Albert Pride board member Troy Parenteau.
“It’s monumental for the community. Pride is all about visibility, equality and diversity, and having a show of (400) people over the week is phenomenal.”
Prince Albert Pride president Marc Roberts agreed.
“It was a fabulous turnout. We had a lot of people, a lot of fun, a lot of different people and groups out,” he said.
“We had a few hiccups but it pulled together at the end and everything was just fabulous.”
In addition to the members of the LGBTQ community who proudly marched Saturday, the celebration had the support of several political and community groups.
The Prince Albert NDP was well-represented, including MLA Nicole Rancourt. The Prince Albert Liberals were also present, as was city councillor Evert Botha. They were joined by acting police chief Jeff Roden, CUPE, SGEU, Carlton Comprehensive High School, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Calvary United Church, the Saskatchewan Pride Network and Beauval’s Valley View School. Walkers represented several cultures and backgrounds, including a strong two-spirit attendance and representatives from Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation.
For Roden, being asked to march in uniform was a meaningful gesture from the Prince Albert Pride organizers.
“It’s extremely important,” he said.
“We’ve been fortunate to have started to develop a strong relationship with Pride several years ago. I give a lot of credit to the organizers of the parade today, who have invited us to participate. This is in our community, and our police service is here to provide services to the community and be a part of the community. It’s a positive experience.”
For allies like Pride Board treasurer Lana Wilson, seeing the support and the strength was an emotional reminder of how far the movement has come.
“So many speakers on the stage were talking about how far people have come,” she said.
“We do know there is a long way to go, but I do my best to be an ally to the community, and I was tearing up because of my friends, family and love ones who have shared their difficult stories with me about not being supported by their communities and schools, and places of worship, and workplaces. To have such a diverse group of speakers here telling us that we have made progress, that we do have hope for more progress to be made for inclusion, made me tear up to know that we do have people growing up in an ever more inclusive society.”
Parenteau has certainly seen society grow more inclusive.
“I was born and raised in Prince Albert. In the 90s it was a new idea,” he said.
“There was opposition, and I’ve watched over my lifetime the change, the support and the visibility in the community, and that’s something we’re happy an
d proud of.”
Roberts has also noticed a change.
“Even in the last five years I’ve been here, I’ve seen such a change,” he said.
“It’s good to have support at all levels. It means everybody’s changing, everyone’s understanding and accepting. I think it means the culture is changing. People are accepting and more inclusive. It means there’s support no matter where you turn.”