Halifax Pride Festival aims at accessibility, building community

·3 min read
Participants in the 2019 Halifax Pride parade on South Park Street. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC - image credit)
Participants in the 2019 Halifax Pride parade on South Park Street. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC - image credit)

The Halifax Pride Festival is underway.

It kicked off in Halifax on Thursday with a queer, trans, Black, Indigenous people of colour showcase that featured local performers and a guest appearance by singer Fefe Dobson.

Close to a hundred events are scheduled across in the Halifax area before the festival ends on July 24.

Adam Reid, the executive director of the festival, said the showcase has been part of Pride celebrations in Halifax for a number of years.

It was a great way to start the festival and featured Haus of Fierce, Kate MacDonald and Elle Noir, Reid told CBC Radio Information Morning Halifax host Portia Clark.

This is a condensed version of their conversation that has been edited for clarity and length.

Is the whole idea being to showcase an opportunity for queer, trans, people of colour Adam?

We recognize that the Pride festival is an incredible opportunity to showcase local talent.

We really strive to identify every way that we can … put communities of colour, BIPOC individuals front and centre in the work we're doing.

That includes these showcases, these stages, our Pride ambassador roles, our board, our committee.

We're really working to ensure that the festival itself reflects the diversity of this community.

And part of that is this new award, the Candy Palmater Award. Tell us a little bit about why this is significant and who received it. 

I think many of the listeners were saddened to hear of Candy's untimely passing last December.

Candy was a noted broadcaster, comedian, Mi'kmaw activist, lawyer and … her passing really was painful.

We wanted to recognize, in part, what Candy has done for this community and also showcase the sort of work that Candy had been doing that is continuing within the community.

We were really honoured to offer this award to Calen Sack.

Calen is an incredible two-spirit individual, a young person in the community.

They work with the youth project and are just such a bright light and wit and intelligence that they bring to this community. We're really honoured to showcase them  partly in the name of Candy Palmater.

We appreciate it as well as she was part of our CBC family. As far as accessibility for everybody this year, what's happening on that front? 

Making the festival accessible to anyone who wants to come and partake is core to our values.

Accessibility means so many different things. It means low-to-no-cost events, which is the case for Halifax Pride events.

It means ASL interpretation, it means having a calm space, it means having a sober space at our site. Obviously, Pride celebrations have an earned reputation of being at times just a party.

We want to be so much more than that.

We're not just an alcohol-fuelled celebration, it's a community-fuelled celebration. That means creating space for community, which means offering things like a sober space.

We've got accessible parking, all kinds of activities.

I also want to ask about speed-friending and what's happening there?

We recognize a lot of people are coming to the festival as newbies.

Maybe they don't know a lot of folks. Maybe it's their first Pride festival.

There's a hope when people come to Pride that they're going to connect with community.

We want to ensure that happens.

The incredible Rouge Fatale will be hosting speed-friending today at 5:30 p.m.

There will be sort of a middle-school-age, high-school-age group and then the 19-plus age groups and just an opportunity to meet folks and get to know others in the community.

Following that, we have a barbecue co-hosted by the local Rainbow Refugee Association. Again, just a chance for folks to come out and mingle, get to know each other and really start off the festival right.

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