Pride flag flies over City Hall

The Pride flag was hoisted high above City Hall today to launch North Bay Pride Celebrations, which run until Sunday, September 17th. About a hundred people were there to support the event’s launch, including many event organizers, Michael Daze, Deputy Chief of North Bay Police Services, and Mayor Peter Chirico.

“I’m excited to be a part of this,” emphasized Seth Compton of OUTLoud. “I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for us to come together, and I hope to see everyone out.”

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Coming together and unity was an upfront theme this morning in the speeches proceeding the flag raising. Jason Maclennan of North Bay Pride has observed “a tremendous amount of hate” toward the LGBTIQA+ community, and coming together is more important than ever.

“The most important thing is that you should never live in fear of who you are,” he said, “never be in fear to walk down the street holding your loved one’s hand and being concerned that you’re going to be attacked physically or verbally.”

“You’re supposed to just love your people and your community, you’re not supposed to target them,” he added. “You’re supposed to embrace our differences and love each other.”

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Maclennan also emphasized Pride’s “very good relationship” with the North Bay Police Service.

“We recognize there’s a lot of work do be done” regarding inclusiveness, said Deputy Chief Daze, “and we recognize that we’re part of that solution and we need to be proactive on that front.”

“That’s really what we’re striving to achieve.”

The Deputy Chief emphasized the need for education and learning from and working with the LGBTIQA+ community. Working together, “we will build a community that is safe for everybody, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other reason.”

“We need a respectful and inclusive environment,” the Deputy Chief added.

Mathew Sookram also spoke on behalf of MP Anthony Rota, who could not make this morning’s event. Sookram’s speech noted that the Parliament of Canada is “proud of the North Bay Pride event, which has become one of, if not the best, pride festivals in the entire country.”

North Bay’s Mayor Peter Chirico agreed, adding that the event – and the city – has come a long way. “Ten years ago this wouldn’t happen,” he said, “it wouldn’t happen without the voices of each and every one of you that said it’s wrong to show hate within our society.”

Raising the Pride flag “breaks through those barriers, and the raising of this flag is symbolic,” the Mayor said. “Show your support,” for the events ahead, he added. “It’s extremely important to everybody in the community.”

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,