Tri-Pride returned on June 10 to Willow River Park with performances by local musicians and drag artists, vendors, food trucks, and an air of celebration. The event began with speeches from the organizers, followed speeches and songs from Indigenous community members.
One of them was Dewe’igan Bearfoot who shared thoughts on Pride as a protest.
Bearfoot said that although Pride is a celebration, it is important to remember that it began as a protest and 2SLGBTQIA+ folks are continuing to fight for their rights.
“[W]e have so much to celebrate as a community, but we need to remember there’s still work to be done. The war is not over. I am still fighting for my rights. I am still discriminated against every single day,” they said.
Among the booths was one from the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) , a volunteer social justice and equity-seeking organization that represents 83,000 teachers and education support workers across Ontario.
Tara Douguid is a local teacher, member of the ETFO and an activist. She helps provide workshops for schools about introducing 2SLGBTQIA+ themes in classrooms, especially for younger grades.
“They’re not sure how you do this…They think it’s talking about sex and it’s not about that at all. Of course, it’s about understanding that we’re all different and it’s okay to be who you are,” Douguid said.
Douguid said the ETFO’s work has a lot of legislative and policy support including the Human Rights Code, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Ontario’s education equity action plan. With the rise in homophobia and transphobia, equity work has become ever more urgent.
“It’s really not as many people in opposition as you think it is—they’re just louder and more aggressive,” she said.
Even as societies become more accepting, Douguid said there is a need for intentional work toward equitable communities where everyone can feel that they belong.
“We’re all unique, and it is an obligation on everybody’s part to welcome everybody in our space. And that’s intentional, deliberate work, doesn’t just happen because you love everybody,” she said.