Rainbows fill Prince Albert as Pride Week begins

Participants walk in the annual pride parade on June 1, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Prince Albert Pride Chair Marc Roberts had a simple explanation for why it’s important to host an annual parade: “It allows us to be who we are.”

Children, teenagers and adults—whether LGBTQ or simply an ally—marched from Court of Queen’s Bench to the Kinsmen Amphitheatre on Saturday for awareness of sexual diversity.

A festival followed in Kinsmen Park.

Roberts handed out flags representing all sexual orientations to make sure everyone felt acknowledged, including bisexual, asexual and pansexual flags. After the well-known rainbow flag was introduced in 1978, plenty of others followed until the most recent, the genderqueer flag, in 2011.

“Always the progress, always moving forward, always being there for our people,” said Roberts.

Prince Albert Pride Chair Marc Roberts hangs up flags on the stage for the festival on June 1, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

He also walked everyone through Canada’s progress when it comes to gender identity laws.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969 and the Civil Marriage Act was introduced in 2005 allowing same-sex marriages, to name a couple.

Roberts said the festivities have only grown since Prince Albert Pride starting hosting them 12 years ago.

“Every year we see more and more of the community coming out and supporting us and saying that ‘Yes, this is a good thing. This is what needs to be done.’”

Prince Albert Pride Chair Marc Roberts guides participants in the parade on June 1, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

The festival included an opening prayer from Elder Victor Thunderchild and several guest speakers: police Chief Jon Bergen, Northcote MLA Nicole Rancourt, Liberal Party candidate for Prince Albert Estelle Hjertaas and the Calvary United Church’s Nora Vedress.

Rancourt said a transgender woman spoke at a recent conference she attended.

“The one thing that really spoke to me as well as to a lot of people that were in that room was just a few weeks prior to her speaking, she was assaulted—just randomly on the street for just being who she is,” said Rancourt.

While discussing it with her friend while shopping afterwards, Rancourt came across a pair of rainbow earrings.

“At that moment, I felt like that was a sign that what we need to do as allies (is) we need to be more vocal.”

She was proudly wearing the earrings as she stood on the stage to tell the story.

Others also said there’s more work to be done to make the LGBTQ community in the city feel more accepted.

Chad Piluk, a transgender man, said he attends pride events “to support everyone in the community.”

“It’s very conservative here,” he said. “I attended the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) event this previous fall at the library. I was very disappointed about the outcome of people. It’s very sad to see that.”

TDOR is an international campaign recognizing transgender people who have been killed because of their identities.

Fionnlagh McDonald, age 11, also participated in the parade.

“(Pride is) to show that it’s not bad to be gay or lesbian—that it’s okay,” he said.

Campy fYrefly, a leadership retreat for sexually diverse children, came from Saskatoon for the event.

The festival also included free hotdogs, sports equipment and a button making activity for people to wear the pronouns they go by.

“That’s what we’re looking for for P.A. Pride, is understanding, tolerance and acceptance,” said Roberts.

Pride Week runs until next Saturday, June 8, with several other events taking place throughout the week.