Hundreds of thousands of people are packing the streets of downtown Vancouver today for the city’s 38th annual Pride Parade.
Among the various dignitaries to march in this year’s parade: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The Prime Minister marched in the parade last year as well, but his return marks the first time a sitting prime minister has attended the event.
“What an incredible pleasure it is to be back here at pride this year here in Vancouver. It’s a time where the whole city, communities, families come out.”
Earlier this month Trudeau made history as the first prime minister to march in any pride parade, attending the Toronto celebration.
Parade maintains relevance as widespread acceptance grows
Marriage equality, formal protections for transgender people — in many ways, the Canada of today looks nothing like the country of just two decades ago.
But ask anyone at this parade if the movement has made itself obsolete, and you’ll get the same answer.
“I think it’s still really relevant.”
“It’s very important that we recognize that everyone deserves to be loved no matter what they choose to live their life as. We have to bring more awareness to it.”
“As humans we have to push those boundaries, and take the lid off occasionally, and take a good look inside.”
Bringing Orlando victims’ memory to the forefront of the parade
This year, pride flags with photos of the Orlando shooting victims dotted the crowd, a serious note amid the music and costumes.
Flag-bearer Carrie Chiga says it was about showing solidarity and pushing back against hate.
“It has to start somewhere. With social media and everybody being able to stay connected in such a quick real time format… it has to start somewhere, we hope it has a ripple effect.”
Many here say as far as Canada has come — violence, discrimination, and inequality are still very real — making the public display of unity and pride more relevant than ever.
“The fact that they have the victims’ pictures throughout the parade, not just in one spot, helps us not only remember them, but makes them a part of our pride. So we celebrate them.”
The theme of this year’s Pride week is “Better Together the power to create change when people work in unity.”
Not everyone feels included under ‘Pride’ umbrella
But while the official theme of Pride this year was “better together,” some members of the community say they don’t feel included and will stage their own march tomorrow.
Organizer Imtiaz Popat says that many indigenous and queer people of colour are seeing growing racism and feel their voices aren’t being heard.
“We wanted to come together in our own space, march together through a part of town where our people live, and and we want to have a healing space. Because a lot of people are hurt about what has been happening and the reaction since the Orlando shooting, because there’s been a lot of racist backlash, and we need to have safe space.”
Popat says the inclusion of police at Pride was one of the key forces behind the move.
“This is a parade for the community, and not for these other people to take that space, especially the police who have a history of of brutality in our communities.”
He says the goal is to improve dialogue with Pride and the city, but won’t rule out making the separate march an annual event.
The march kicks off at Victory Square at 1:00 p.m., August 1.