LGBTQ+ youth showed off their artistic creations at the OAG last week. Photo: Courtesy of Anika Lalonde.
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From the parade to youth art gallery, Capital Pride swept the National Capital Region

With every passing year, Capital Pride has continued to grow its audiences and events—and 2018 was no exception.

From August 19-26, the National Capital Region was flooded with celebratory LGBTQ+ events on both sides of the Ottawa river that included everything from a youth art exhibit held at the newly constructed Ottawa Art Gallery to the week’s biggest event—the annual parade.

“This year we really focused on having the biggest (Capital Pride) festival ever,” explained Davy Sabourin, a fourth-year conflict studies and human rights student at the University of Ottawa, and the communications director for Capital Pride. “Last year we had about 50 community groups register … this year we have over 75 … (So) I think we really succeeded at that.”

Unlike previous Pride festivals in Ottawa, which have have been smaller and had limitations, this year saw performances take stage on both weekend nights, the expansion of community engagement, and also a project to increase youth participation.

For Sabourin, “the LGBTQ+ community is really coming together in Ottawa and Gatineau. There’s really a sense of community being built right now,” he said, sharing that his favourite part of the parade is  “just seeing everyone coming together as a community and celebrating the inclusion, the love and diversity, that constitutes this region.”

To facilitate their goal to increase youth engagement, Capital Pride’s board of directors created a youth committee that seeks to involve younger generations and spearhead new initiatives. Despite being their first year as a committee, Sabourin felt “they really helped with organizing and giving ideas for the youth events.”

Third-year political science and public administration U of O student, Alicia Cooke, co-chairs the committee with Sabourin and explained that, while they have contributed to this week’s festivities in Ottawa, they are also trying to think globally.

“There was a town in Poland (Rzeszow), they were hosting their first ever Pride festival and our committee wrote a letter that was sent to them in support,” she said. “(It’s one of) the bigger things we’ve done, but on a smaller scale we’ve been involved with helping to organize the events that are geared more towards youth.”

Alongside the letter of support, the newly formed committee has signed another letter that condemns Ontario’s new sexual education curriculum, contributed locally by organizing a clothing swap, and helped out with Capital Pride’s youth art gallery that took place last Wednesday.

Despite the large number of attendees and increased events, Capital Pride still faces controversies such as the contention over police officers in the parade who were asked not to go in uniform and other issues like Pride’s growing commercialization. However, for Cooke, every year is a learning opportunity.

“We’re definitely going to keep meeting and I’m sure that we’ll all reconvene after Pride and brainstorm how to make sure next year’s better and bigger,” she said. “I’m sure that there will be more in the works.”