Edmonton Pride cancellation a 'huge loss,' says advocate who made inclusion demands
Published Friday, April 12, 2019 9:58AM EDT
An inclusion advocate says the cancellation of Edmonton’s Pride celebrations is a “huge loss” but that there is a “crisis” happening in segments of the LGBTQ community that must be addressed.
“We were not advocating for the event to be cancelled, of course not,” Rohan Dave, Shades of Colour program director, told CTV’s Your Morning Friday. Shades of Colour, which advocates for indigenous, black and people of colour in the queer and trans communities, was one of two groups that demanded additions to the Pride schedule to promote diversity.
“We were advocating to make changes, to make positive changes in the event. We don’t want this event to be cancelled. We care about Pride, otherwise we wouldn’t be putting in these efforts,” said Dave.
The Edmonton Pride Festival Society released a statement Wednesday announcing the June 6-8 event would be cancelled, saying it aims to “…host a safe and enjoyable event… however given current events, we do not feel that this is attainable for this year.”
A member of the Pride society, who spoke to CTV Edmonton anonymously on Thursday morning out of fear of retaliation, says the demands became too much.
“I was heartbroken that we had reached this point because there was a sense of failure,” the member said.
“I just think the demands showed a lack of understanding or a huge desire for the festival society to be something it's not.”
Dave says the group had many discussions with Pride organizers since August and isn’t sure why the board believes it’s necessary to nix the celebration, which began in 1983. He said his group’s demands were negotiable.
“We used the language of demands because this feels like a crisis for our communities. People are feeling suicidal over Pride, people are getting deported. This is a crisis for queer and trans racialized people.”
Dave says the group wants more educational workshops for the community, safe spaces, mental health supports and to end the event with a vigil to commemorate lives lost due to transphobia, homophobia and racism.
“Pride is an event to honour that and to acknowledge that this harm is still being caused but also to celebrate how far we’ve come.”
Shades of Colour and a group called RaricaNow demanded the Pride society provide $20,000 to each group to create spaces specific to queer, trans, black, Indigenous and people of colour at the festival.
But Dave says Pride existed before the festival board and will exist after “in the ways we exist in our communities and relate to one another. That’s helping me get through it at least, and that’s something I’ve been sharing with my community, but obviously, this is a huge loss.”
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson says the city has already heard from other groups interested in taking on the Pride festival.
“We'll get creative and try to facilitate something that is safe and something that is inclusive if the community is able to bring a proposal forward,” the mayor said Thursday.
Iveson also indicated that the city would celebrate Pride week, with or without the festival.
With files from CTV Edmonton