Capital Pride in Ottawa kicks off this weekend, but as with many events during the COVID-19 pandemic, all celebrations will be online.
The week-long festival will still have a variety of events, including panel discussions, celebrity appearances and a virtual pageant and parade.
"I was looking forward to having over 200,000 folks attending [in person]," said Osmel Guerra Maynes, the new executive director for Capital Pride.
"The year prior, we had close to 150,000. And so this year, we wanted it to be bigger and better … until COVID decided to come through."
The theme for this year's festival, which runs from Aug. 23 to Aug. 30, is "wherever you are."
"You get to see and to enjoy and to participate in Pride, wherever you are — whether you're at home or at work or using your smart TV or your mobile tablet or your phone — you get to see Pride and all its glory," Maynes said.
Also important to Maynes, who is Black and Latino, are events directed at specific communities, including Black and Indigenous, so everyone feels included.
"We are a rainbow spectrum of beautiful people. I wanted to ensure that every single person within that rainbow spectrum has something that they can click to, something that they can enjoy, that represents them," Maynes said.
New Ottawa Trans-Fest
New to this year is Ottawa Trans-Fest, a week-long event planned by the Odawa Two-Spirit, Trans and Gender Diverse March organizers to foster connections within the trans community during the pandemic.
Throughout Pride week, Trans-Fest will be offering numerous online events focused on trans community health and rights.
"We had been hearing all sorts of things that trans folks have been experiencing during the pandemic, and so we realised that we wanted to meet folks where they are," said Jade Byard Peek, co-organizer of the event.
"Folks have been feeling isolated, trapped, unable to access their health care, their surgeries have been postponed," said Peek.
Accessing employment was difficult for many trans people in non-pandemic times and the economic slowdown has had a severe impact on many in the community, added Peek.
To help ensure the security of the community, moderators will attend every event, ready to remove people who cause a scene or spread transphobic messages.
"Hopefully that doesn't happen. I want to have some faith and hope that we will have a flawless event without any bigots joining on in," co-organizer Fae Johnstone told CBC Radio's All In A Day on Friday. "But we are very well prepared just in case they decide to."
The organizer said planning for Trans-Fest started less than two weeks ago and was only going to include one event.
"It very much got away from us in terms of scope. But I also think the more we can deliver, the better it is for trans folk right now, right?"
The Pride events are open to anyone across Canada.