Pride 2016
Capital pride runs from August 21-27. Photo: Jaclyn McRae-Sadik Graphic: Courtesy of Capital Pride
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As Pride continues to grow, so does its importance in the community

A 30-year-long tradition of celebrating Pride in the city of Ottawa continues from August 21-27 and  this year, it’s bigger than ever.

Pride in Ottawa saw its origins in the 1980s, and though there have been many changes over the decades, the size of the event is what Mike Connors, the Producer for Capital Pride, says still surprises and excites him.

“The biggest change is how much it’s grown. Like I said, it was just a picnic in the park at Strathcona in the 80s, and now it’s a parade, a community fair,” said Connors. “We have 113 people registered for the parade this year, so that’s the highest this new organization has seen.”

The week is bursting with events and activities scattered around downtown Ottawa. One of the first highlights is the Pride Pageant on Tuesday evening at the Marriott Hotel, where the Mr., Ms., and Mx. Capital Pride are crowned, acting as ambassadors for the rest of the celebration and continuing their leadership roles through the year.

“Monday to Friday is jam-packed,” Connors said. “I think we have nine events that we plan, and then at least 30 to 40 community events that community partner organization plan on their own, and we list those on our website.”

The TD Speakers Series on Thursday will feature queer indigenous activist Candy Palmater—a former Aboriginal rights lawyer who now hosts her own show on APTN—speaking about her personal story. Following that will be the Human Rights Vigil.

“There’s many people still in Canada who face discrimination, but around the world there are people that are still being murdered for being a member of the community, or thrown in jail, and so it’s important to advocate for them,” Connors said.

Along with advocacy, the other pillars of Capital Pride are celebration and education.

“The community has reached milestones over the years, and it’s important to celebrate those.”

As for education, the festival offers a public place for those outside of the community to learn about issues the LGBTQ+ community is facing, according to Connors.

The festival ends with the Pride Parade and Community Fair on Sunday, culminating in six performances at the Bank St. main stage. This year’s headliner is rapper Mykki Blanco, who has become a major name in the queer rap, or “homo hop,” scene.

“Hip hop music hasn’t been very kind to our community,” Connors said, “but there’s a small group for artists … making strides within hip-hop culture to make music that’s more inclusive of our community.”

Anyone still interested in volunteering can check out the Google form on the Capital Pride website.  

Though the community has a lot to celebrate, there are still many more hurdles to pass, and Capital Pride offers a chance for members of the community to come together and celebrate openly, and for people outside the community to learn from and engage with a group they may know little about.  

“There’s so much going on right now,” Connors said, “so I think it’s important to show that we have the numbers to support our community.”

Information on ticket sales, events, and locations can be found on the Capital Pride website.