Thousands participate in biggest Winnipeg Pride parade yet

Thousands participated in Winnipeg's Pride parade Sunday, with organizers saying it was the biggest one yet.   (Travis Golby/CBC - image credit)
Thousands participated in Winnipeg's Pride parade Sunday, with organizers saying it was the biggest one yet. (Travis Golby/CBC - image credit)

There was a sea of every colour of the rainbow as thousands joyfully moved through the streets of downtown Winnipeg Sunday afternoon for the annual Pride Parade.

The parade began at 11 a.m., and travelled down Portage Avenue before ending near The Forks later in the afternoon.

"It's a party of community of people who you just get along with and understand you on a fundamental level, but also just on the surface," said Yuna Park, who attended their first Pride parade Sunday.

Park said they were happy to show up and be proud during the event.

"I think identity is such a big part of people," said Park. "I think our sexuality and how we present ourselves and just masculinity [and] femininity is so important to one's identity."

Travis Golby/CBC
Travis Golby/CBC

Meanwhile, Barry Karlenzig, president of Pride Winnipeg, said it was the biggest parade the organization has had. There were over 6,000 people in the parade itself, he said.

"The turnout really was the biggest piece," he said. "We had an amazing turnout."

WATCH | 'Amazing turnout' for largest parade to date, Winnipeg Pride organizers say:

Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew echoed that sentiment, and elaborated on Pride Winnipeg's 2024 theme: Transcend Together.

"The message this year about transcend, and support trans people, to see the largest turnout ever around that theme, I think it's super, super important that people are coming together to support trans people, but also the broader Pride movement."

Blockade pauses parade 

A blockade of protesters halted Sunday's parade on Portage Avenue near Fort Street for a short time.

A statement handed out by the protesters said the group is demanding Pride Winnipeg "end complicity with genocide, divest from corporate pinkwashing, remove police from Pride and centre QTBIPOC leadership."

The statement said Pride has "strayed from its revolutionary roots, so far that today we protest Pride itself and hold accountable those who claim to represent us."

"We stopped the parade for 45 minutes and listed demands to Pride Winnipeg because Pride Winnipeg has not listened to community concerns for a number of years," said Chantale Garand, a spokesperson for the group.

"And this was action that we were forced to take to make Pride Winnipeg come to the table in a meaningful way."

Garand said there were over 50 people who participated in the blockade and more joined once it was underway.

The demands were discussed with Pride Winnipeg organizers, and protesters were given time at the main stage to make others aware of them in order to leave the road, Garand said.

Bryce Hoye/CBC
Bryce Hoye/CBC

"We were told that they were reasonable and that they could be acted on [but] that they wouldn't be able to fully employ them today," said Garand.

Protesters said in the statement they call on Pride to return to "being a space of community building and celebration of radical queer and trans joy for all," with a focus on those who are BIPOC, unhoused, sex working, migrant and disabled.

Pride Winnipeg said in a statement issued later Sunday that discussions were "held at the blockade to reach a collective agreement for change."

The statement also said Pride Winnipeg is committed to working with all areas of the community, starting with regular consultations moving forward to ensure that our organization and its events represent the voices and the diversity of all 2SLGBTQ+ individuals.

Those consultations will begin next week, according to the statement.

The statement also said the community-led group that gathered to block the parade did so peacefully, expressing their right to protest for change within Pride Winnipeg and Pride celebrations.

The parade was paused for about 20 minutes, according to Pride Winnipeg.

Following the parade, a festival was scheduled to take place at The Forks, but that event was ended early — around 4:30 p.m. — due to severe weather, according to a Pride Winnipeg post on Facebook.

Winnipeg was under a severe thunderstorm warning for part of the afternoon, which ended early in the evening. Heavy rain fell on the city's downtown Sunday.

Rally before parade also draws huge crowd 

Arturo Chang/CBC
Arturo Chang/CBC

A rally was held before Sunday's parade in celebration of love and the pursuit of equal rights outside the Manitoba legislative building.

Hudu Abdl Hamid was at the rally and said they fled their home country of Ghana in West Africa out of fear of persecution and arrived in Winnipeg last fall.

Hamid said coming to Winnipeg felt like coming home because they are protected by the Canadian government.

"Being LGBTQ+ in Ghana is hell. You'll either be lynched or killed," they said.

"Being an LGBTQ+ person is a privilege. Look at how lovely it is here."

Dieth Aquino de Leon, who came to Winnipeg in 2015, is a part of Bahaghari Pride Manitoba — a community group that aims to help 2SLGBTQ Filipinos in Manitoba feel celebrated.

"It's very important to have representation, because a lot of people in our community don't believe that we should exist," he said.

Celebrating Pride feels great, "because we know who we are,"Aquino de Leon said.

"Wherever you go, we are everywhere and we're not going anywhere."