Pride was displayed all over the city during the weekend starting June 24 with students of the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) and supporters of the LGBTQIA2S+ community holding a march around the Charles Hays Secondary School (CHSS) track and celebrating the acceptance of diversity as important to youth.
The Pride march is a known identifier for celebrating the rainbow movement, Danielle Dueck, teacher and group leader of the CHSS GSA said.
“Oftentimes for pride celebration, it’s like a “thing” for pride. But it is also a show of solidarity and supporting each other, in all the things around the world,” she said.
“[Teaching the youth of today] is so important. We see what’s going on in the world right now, and we need pride more than ever to make students aware that it’s okay to be gay,” she said. “As well, it is also okay to love and support the people in your lives because there’s already so much struggle in the world. We need something good in our lives.”
Dueck said Pride month is a time to acknowledge what it means to be “out and proud” and what means for different members of the community from little kids to people who have just come out as elders and honouring that.
Jennifer Rice MLA for the North Coast said she was happy to be in attendance at the high school celebration as over the years there haven’t been many events acknowledging Pride Month in Prince Rupert.
Rice said it’s critical to teach the young from an early age about pride, and LGBTQIA2S+ equality.
“I think those of us from the community need to be role models and be visible and come out to events like this,” she said, adding events like that held at the high school are significant, particularly in small communities like Prince Rupert and the Northwest, where people often feel isolated at the best of times.
“We know that people from the LGBTQIA2S+ community have higher rates of mental health struggles and suicide attempts. We don’t want people to feel isolated and alone. It’s great to be out and proud and to walk with these kids,” Rice said.
A second event later in the evening, this time for adults only, at Wheelhouse Brewing was held with more than 80 people throughout the night joining to recognize equality in the Rainbow community. Proceeds of the night’s draws and raffles are being donated to the GSA groups in School District 52.
Community group Transition Prince Rupert, along with Change Makers Society and volunteers got together on June 25 to paint the rainbow colours on the pathway steps behind Save-on-Foods, giving them a facelift.
On Sunday, (June 26) a new community group Rainbow Potluck held their first dinner bringing LGBT+ members and allies together with more than 25 people in attendance. The meal was held at the Lutheran Church which donated the space for the event.
Tom Kertes, organizer of the dinner said it is important to hold events bringing community embers together so they can see that Prince Rupert is a place where they can be out and proud and be welcomed as members of the community.
“Having visibility says that,” Kertes said.
“Pride is about celebrating our differences, our diversity and what makes us all unique people. Being visible and diverse all together says that,” he said.
“Until every person in this community feels included, welcomed and fully respected we have to keep coming out and saying ‘We are here and we are part of this community.”
“And for the people who are able to come and do that visibly, that creates a space for others to join us when the time is right for them,” he said.