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P.E.I. Pride march draws hundreds to downtown Charlottetown

·3 min read
The P.E.I. Pride march in Charlottetown was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so this year's event had extra meaning. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)
The P.E.I. Pride march in Charlottetown was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so this year's event had extra meaning. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)

Indigenous drummers led over 550 people through the streets of Charlottetown Saturday to celebrate and show support for the LGBTQ community.

People were draped in Pride flags, some held signs with messages such as, "Rainbows are cool. Homophobia is not," and shouting, "Love is love."

Dogs even got in on the celebrations with many breeds wearing Pride-coloured collars.

Brenda Roach was one of many people marching, but she wasn't just celebrating Pride — she was celebrating a recent engagement. She walked hand in hand with her fiancée.

"We get to celebrate our engagement. I proposed to her about a month ago," Roach said.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

She was also excited to see Pride take back the streets.

"I think we needed it this year," she said. "I'm really impressed with all the families that are showing up together."

Last year's event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Roach has been going to annual Pride events since the mid-90s.

"I came out in the 90s and it was difficult for us, but now for the next generation and the next generation it is going to be much more easier for them," she said.

Roach was at the event with her family. Her niece, Gray Roach, said she has been a supporter of the community since the day she was born.

"My mother is a lesbian," she said. "She's been in a happy marriage for 15 years."

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

Layney Smith was out at her first Pride march and felt is was important to go to Saturday's event.

"I thought that it was very important because a while ago they were fighting for their rights and now we are celebrating," she said. "A lot of people are going through a hard time right now because they are getting bullied for who they are and I don't think that's right."

Smith said she isn't learning much about the LGBTQ community in school, but she would like to.

Physical distancing and masking was encouraged throughout the event. Marchers walked from Rochford Square to the outside of Founders Food Hall and Market — and quickly dispersed, as per current public health guidelines.

Josie Baker is the executive director of PEERS Alliance. She said she wasn't upset that floats weren't part of the march this year. She said it's time Pride gets back to its roots.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

"We really appreciate doing a march opposed to a parade because that really gets back to the origins of Pride as a social movement that is calling for rights and is calling for social justice," she said. "We were all just really thrilled we got to be back out in the streets and get together again and that it was in the context of a march. That felt really good."

Baker said it was great to see hundreds turn out for the march because it sends a signal to the community that understanding and support has improved.

"We still have a ways to go, but you know this is a day for celebrating," she said.

Pride P.E.I. asked participants to not wear any type of corporate logo while participating in the march.

"I think from what I've heard from people, they were happy we went back to our roots as the Pride Parade is usually very corporatized and is fun and colourful, but there are a lot of corporate sponsors in there walking through," said Hal Atwood, communications director for Pride P.E.I.

Atwood said Pride P.E.I. will start planning the next festival in January, but the focus for the organization is holding more events in rural communities throughout the year.

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