West Nipissing Pride prepares for summer celebrations

West Nipissing Pride has plans underway for a Pride parade in the afternoon of June 9th. Mayor Kathleen Thorne-Rochon will also proclaim June as Pride month in West Nipissing at a June 1st ceremony at Minnehaha Bay.

Michel Gervais, along with Ryan Morin, addressed municipal council on behalf of West Nipissing Pride. The group has existed “since early 2020,” Gervais explained, “right at the beginning of the pandemic, so we’ve been a remote committee” since the beginning.

Despite the slow start due to the pandemic, “we’ve been working to raise awareness,” of LGBTQIA+ issues, “and we’re happy to see the progress over the years,” Gervais explained to council.

The group plans to launch some new programming throughout 2023 and 2024, to further their mission to “promote unity, inclusion, and awareness of sexuality and gender diversity,” Morin emphasized.

See: Another first as municipality set to recognize Pride Month in West Nipissing

It’s important to create safe places for people, Morin noted, and West Nipissing Pride strives towards that goal. The group also helps “increase visibility” of the LGBTQIA+ community, “, especially in the rural areas,” Morin noted.

“Youth and queer people often have less access” to resources in rural northern Ontario, Morin explained, and part of West Nipissing Pride’s goal is to help provide support and “offer some security to queer people.”

While speaking of visibility, Gervais also offered councillors a new mug, emblazoned with the West Nipissing Pride logo, to help increase the visibility of the group. Group members also handed out some stickers.

For the past few years, Pride has held a proclamation celebration at Minnehaha Bay, and they asked council if this could become an annual tradition and have the support of the municipality to ensure the parade goes smoothly.

Council agreed. “Pride is very important for our community,” Mayor Kathleen Thorne-Rochon emphasized, “not just for young people, but for older people as well.”

“People need to feel at home in their own community, and in their own selves,” she said. “You’ve done a lot of hard work” on the committee “and it doesn’t go unnoticed.”

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, BayToday.ca