As part of its ongoing efforts to build a community that’s welcoming and inclusive for all, the District of Saanich is marking Pride Month with more initiatives and activities than ever.
With in-person celebrations possible once again, that includes the new Saanich Pride in the Park event, a family-friendly celebration held last week at Beckwith Park. In addition to a full evening of entertainment, food and activities, representatives from local community groups and organizations were also on hand.
Earlier in the month, in front of a freshly-painted Progress Pride Flag crosswalk, Acting Mayor Karen Harper raised the Pride Flag at Municipal Hall, proclaiming June as Pride Month in Saanich, in support and celebration of the Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community. And throughout the month, a light display is transforming the front of municipal hall into a giant flag once the sun sets.
“Mayor Haynes and this Council have been really supportive of cultural diversity and outreach across the board,” says Cristina Caravaca, Senior Manager of Community Services, which hosts programs for youth and adults that welcome folks of all genders, sexualities, bodies, ancestries, cultures and abilities.
It’s all part of ongoing efforts to create an inclusive, welcoming community for all who live here, Cristina explains.
Saanich has again partnered with Victoria Pride Society and the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA) in its Pride celebrations, a key step in ensuring everyone feels welcome, safe and included, no matter their cultural background – and an acknowledgement that in many countries, people are at risk simply from being part of the LGBTQ2S+ community, Cristina notes. Even here at home, people remain marginalized and at risk of violence.
“While today we think of Pride as a big celebration, we have to remember that it began as a civil rights protest,” Cristina says.
The event commemorates the 1969 Stonewall riots, sparked by a police raid of New York’s Stonewall Inn, a gay club that welcomed some of the most vulnerable people at the time, including BIPOC and Trans individuals.
While today’s Pride events tend to be celebratory, with wonderful gatherings of 2SLGBTQ+ community members and allies, we often forget the role that Trans and BIPOC people played in Pride’s history.
The newly-designed Progress Pride flag – and partnerships with organizations like the Inter-Cultural Association, acknowledges both Pride’s roots and its future.
It’s also important to ensure people find support and Pride in their own community, rather than having everything focused downtown, Cristina notes.
“Are we being representative of who the residents of Saanich are, and if not, how can we do better?”
Saanich Police also have their own Recruiting, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) committee to ensure the force reflects the diversity of the community – key to ensuring all residents feel safe here, Cristina notes.
For those looking for additional resources, Saanich’s partners, the Victoria Pride Society and ICA provide many opportunities to LGBTQ2+ people who are looking for ways to build safe connections, including the ICA’s Q+ Crew, a support group for LGBTQ2S+ immigrants, refugees and BIPOC youth (18 to 30 years old).
And you’re invited to keep the Pride festivities going with the Victoria Pride Society’s events, including the 2SLGBTQ+ Youth Pride Kick-Off; Big Gay Dog Walk; Memorial Drag Ball Game, the Victoria Pride Parade and Festival in the Park and more.