Manitoba is full of Pride this summer. Not only is Pride Winnipeg going forward and expanding its festival at The Forks, Thompson will be the location for the first PRIDE North of 55, while Brandon Pride is celebrating its fifth year.
PRIDE North of 55
Jason Douglas grew up in Thompson where he didn’t know anyone who was gay. So it’s pretty exciting for him that as the community liaison director for Pride Winnipeg he has been a major factor in the creation of PRIDE North of 55.
The event is called PRIDE North of 55, rather than Thompson Pride, because they didn’t want to exclude surrounding communities. “We want to make sure everyone in the North is included in that,” said Douglas. And he wants people from Winnipeg to join in too. Douglas is trying to get a partnership with a hotel to get discounts for Pride attendees.
On June 28, the Pride event will take place in MacLean Park in downtown Thompson. Douglas expects a couple hundred people to crowd into the park then attend the social that evening. “No plans are set in stone yet,” said Douglas. The eight people involved in planning the event are considering getting live entertainment and having vendors and info booths, much like Pride Winnipeg and Brandon Pride.
So far there has been nothing but positive reactions from people in the area. Michelle Smook, one of the PRIDE North of 55’s organizers, said, “We had support from Niki Ashton, the [NDP] MP from our region.” The City of Thompson gave them the park rental and utilities for free. Business owners in Thompson have also shown their support.
“We are proud to be part of the Pride system,” said Brandon Pride chairperson Kenneth Jackson. He said many former Brandon residents head home for the Pride weekend festival and are happy to see it taking place. “We like to invite anyone from Winnipeg and the surrounding area to come out,” said Jackson, who hopes more people make the trip this year.
2014 Brandon Pride will look very similar to last year, other than having a different theme, “Colour Your World,” which is about speaking for people in the world who might not be able to speak for themselves. It will start with a flag-raising ceremony on Friday, June 13, followed by a Lunch and Learn hosted by Sexuality Education Resource Centre (SERC). “The Lunch and Learn changes every year,” said Jackson. At the time of publication the topic of discussion had yet to be announced.
An all-ages bowling event takes place Friday evening. Jackson said they are considering doing other all-ages events, but the bowling has been very popular in the past. Princess Park will be filled with vendors, food and entertainment on Saturday. Last year OutWords was lucky enough to have a table near the stage. Don’t stay at the social too late Saturday night! Sunday morning Knox United Church is running a special pride-themed service.
– Meg Crane is the books & movies and news editor of OutWords and editor-in-chief of Cockroach zine.