Fort McMurray's Pride week is kicking off with new feature events to celebrate two-spirit people and engage youth.
Mitchel Bowers, chair of the board of directors for Pride YMM, said there is a gamut of events for this year's Pride week including a panel discussion with two-spirit people, and a queer prom for youth.
There will also be several community events like drag events, pride yoga classes and a 2SLGBTQ-friendly self-defence class.
Bowers said Pride YMM has its own flag, which will be revealed at the opening ceremony and includes representation two-spirit people.
"As a two-spirited person I was wondering 'is anyone ever going to add the two-spirit feathers to this flag'?" said Bowers. "I felt like that connection to our first queer people on this land was missing."
The flag will be at Keyano College and on a temporary pole outside of Jubilee Plaza.
The flag's design will be available on Pride YMM's website, so anyone can get a custom flag made.
Last year's Pride Week celebration was hit with pandemic restrictions in the middle of the week.Bowers is hoping to see a good turnout this year.
"We are planning it to be bigger and better than ever," said Bowers.
Bowers, also known as Simma Downs, will be performing drag at several events and will be attending 14 events.
Bowers said Pride is important for youth, and each year parents and kids say it's making a difference in the community.
After hearing queer youth would like more Pride events for them, Bowers brought in queer prom, which is set to take place on Friday.
"We wanted to create a space that was free for youth and their allies to get together," said Bowers.
The two-spirit panel on Tuesday will feature three speakers, including Bowers. It's a new event where the speakers will talk about connecting to culture and identity.
"It's been a focus for us," said Bowers. "It was something we wanted to make sure that's in the forefront moving forward."
Laurel Spring, 17, will be performing at the That's So Gay comedy night and will be attending the queer prom.
Her jokes are about going through high school as a queer youth in rural Alberta.
"I definitely faced challenges," said Spring, who went through the Catholic school system.
"I feel like it's gotten better, but we're not there."
Pride kicked off on Thursday and runs until June 25.