Grand Forks showed its pride on Saturday, welcoming everyone to celebrate love and acceptance.
Gyro Park was awash in colour for the second annual Pride event June 3 with crowds taking in free events showcasing diversity, gender and equality.
This year’s event was even bigger and more inclusive, said Carol Mitchell,, SD52 Boundary Healthy Schools coordinator. The Grand Forks and District Public Library held a story time for children in the park, with a singalong and a booth outside for families to check out Pride-themed books. Gallery 2 – Grand Forks Art Gallery also hosted crafting tables and invited people to sign a banner. A free draw gave away shirts for people to tie-dye themselves, and people could make their own Pride and gender flags.
Private supporters also pitched in with face-painting and a barbecue. All of which was free.
“We had people here since 10 a.m. and it’s been lots of love and lots of kind words,” Mitchell said. “It really warms my heart to see so many youth here. You put the word out and you never really know who’s going to show up. They are wearing great costumes, flying their flags and supporting their friends.”
That support is critical for visibility and diversity, she said. Pride celebrates both and support is needed as members of the LGBTQ+ and their ally to gain acceptance in the community at large.
She added the original Pride Day was spearheaded by the Grand Forks Secondary School’s SAGA team.
Read More: Grand Forks hosts first ever Pride event
Along with local support, the B.C. Nurses Union also had a booth offering information on their support for equality and diversity. The union has equity and human rights as one of its principles, explained Scott Lamont, registered nurse and a member of the union’s West Kootenay LGBTQ Caucus. As part of that, the union supports pride events across the province.
For rural regions, he said it’s important to support efforts to improve human rights and equity.
“The nurse’s union wants to be behind those efforts as part of pushing for rights and social justice on a broad scale,” he said. “The reception has been excellent. High School students are leading this and the union really wants to support young people working on justice and equity issues.”
June is designated Pride Month across Canada. Grand Forks’ Pride celebrations are supported by city staff, stated Mayor Everett Baker in a news release.
“As a Mayor I am proud to celebrate Pride and honour 2SLGBTQ1+ people and allies as part of an effort to build diversity and inclusion here in Grand Forks,” the statement read.
The RDKB also sent their support for Pride celebrations. Grace McGregor, Area C Director (Christina Lake) stated in a news release the significance of Pride month for the LGBTQ+ is multifaceted and deeply meaningful.
It serves as a time for the community to honor the courage, resilience, and activism of those who fought for their rights throughout history.
“It is a reminder of the progress made and the ongoing work necessary to achieve full equality and inclusivity,” she stated. “Pride month also creates a platform for members of the LGBTQ+ community to openly express their identities, embrace their authentic selves, and celebrate their diverse experiences. It fosters a sense of belonging, unity, and visibility for individuals who have historically faced marginalization, discrimination, and societal pressures to conform.”
Pride Month offers an opportunity for education, awareness, and advocacy, McGregor added. Increased dialogue and understanding is encouraged among both LGBTQ+ individuals and allies, highlighting the struggles faced by the community and promoting empathy, acceptance, and equality.