Thousands turn out for first-ever Pride march in Steinbach, Man.
Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, July 9, 2016 1:41PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, July 9, 2016 7:25PM EDT
The streets of Steinbach, Man. got an extra splash of colour as thousands turned out for the community’s first-ever gay pride march.
Crowds of people carrying signs marched down the street Saturday in the city located approximately 60 kilometres east of Winnipeg.
Organizers initially expected a few hundred people to show up, but the RCMP estimated that 3,000 attended the parade. Some attendees came from as far away as Ottawa and Toronto.
Steinbach, Manitoba’s third largest city, made headlines over a long-fought battle between event organizers and local politicians. Conservative MP Ted Falk has said he wouldn’t attend because the march did not align with his values. Several local politicians in the largely Mennonite community also said they would not attend, though some cited prior commitments.
At the march, Liberal MP Dan Vandal read a message of support on behalf of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“We want to send a message that every human is important,” he told CTV Winnipeg on the eve of the parade.
Vandal was the first city councillor to raise the Rainbow Flag in Winnipeg in 1999.
Organizers were initially denied permission to march on city streets due to safety concerns, but were eventually granted approval with the help of the RCMP.
The owner of Winnipeg nightclub Club 200 and the University of Winnipeg Student Association both organized bus trips to the event. Canadian pop duo Tegan and Sara announced their support for the event via Twitter last month.
Steinbach Pride organizer Michelle McHale said the larger-than-expected turnout sent a message to the entire city.
“Bible belt or not, it’s time, right?” she told CTV Winnipeg. “People are people.”
With files from CTV Winnipeg and The Canadian Press