‘One love’: Squamish Nation to hold its queer community up in Pride celebration

·2 min read

Pride at X̱wemelch’stn is back after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On July 17, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) will hold Nch’ú7mut (One Love), its pride celebration, from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at X̱wemelch’stn field.

Events like this, and the rainbow crosswalk at Welsh Street and Capilano Road which the Nation unveiled in 2019, are just some of the ways the Nation shows support and acceptance of its LGBTQI2S+ members, spokesperson Syexwáliya (Ann Whonnock) said.

“We felt it was really important to do this in the community to show our support … because we have a number of citizens within our Nation who fall into one of the categories of LGBTQI2S+. And the two-spirited people have always been important in First Nations communities and some cultures because they are seen as special and having gifts that they could share with their Nations or tribes,” she said.

Having a pride parade through the Xwemelch’stn community for the first time since 2019, Syexwáliya said bikes, floats, and trucks will be decorated and to show “support for our family members.”

“And be able to hold them up and show that we have that togetherness, of sharing the time and connecting with one another, and to raise awareness against the bullying and harassment that [members of] the LGBTQI2S+ community face in their lives every day,” she said.

Syexwáliya noted it’s also a chance for everyone to be able to stand up and take a stand against inappropriate behaviour.

“It also shows to the wider community, outside of [Squamish], the support we give, and to pressure the outside politicians to improve their laws, so they're more inclusive of the LGBTQI2S+ community.”

It’s also an opportunity for the Nation and its members to inspire people to proudly step into who they are, she explained.

“In the past, everyone hid who they really were, and having this kind of event – and we've also even had a blanket ceremony and covered those who stood up proudly declaring who they are – you know, it's partly to inspire people to reveal, accept, and be comfortable with who they are as human beings, and their sexual orientation.”

Charlie Carey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News

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