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Celebrating Pride Month in Canada

White background with a large line fragmenting into a maple leaf. Both show the rainbow colours of the Progress Pride flag

June is Pride Month in Canada and marks the start of Pride Season.

Last year, Canada announced the launch of Pride Season, which runs from June to September, to celebrate 2SLGBTQAI+ people all across the country. Throughout Pride Season, communities and allies come together to highlight the resilience, celebrate the talent and recognize the contributions of 2SLGBTQAI+ communities.

Historically in Canada, Pride gatherings emerged from large-scale protests for 2SLGBTQAI+ rights and freedoms. The first protests began in Ottawa and Vancouver in 1971, where crowds gathered to demand an end to all forms of state discrimination against gays and lesbians.

By 1973, Pride events were celebrated throughout other cities across the country.

Pride Week 1973 was a national LGBT rights event held in several Canadian cities, including Vancouver, Montreal, Saskatoon, Toronto, Winnipeg and Ottawa. This event represented the shift from the homophile movement into the gay liberation movement, representing the start of the concept of gay pride.

As gays and lesbians were increasingly represented in the public sphere, these changes reflected the community’s continued and growing acceptance into mainstream Canadian culture.

Vancouver’s first official Pride Parade was held in 1981 when a new municipal government was elected under the leadership of Mayor Mike Harcourt. He delivered on his promise for a proclamation and parade permit, and more than 1,500 attendees showed up to the parade. 

In 1999, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples must be afforded the same rights as opposite-sex couples in a common-law relationship. In response to the ruling, the federal government introduced Bill C-23, the Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act, which enabled same-sex couples who have lived together for more than a year the same benefits and obligations as common-law couples, including the same social and tax benefits. 

In 2002, the Ontario Superior Court ruled that prohibiting same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As a result of the ruling, seven provinces and one territory also legalized same-sex marriage within the next two years, including British Columbia, Manitoba, Yukon, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick.

In 2005, Bill C-38, which gave same-sex couples the legal right to marry, became federal law. This marked Canada as the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. 

While there have been many achievements for the 2SLGBTQAI+ community, today, the rights of trans people in Canada continue to be at the forefront of the struggle for equality. And according to the 2021 Census, one in 300 people in Canada aged 15 and older are transgender or non-binary, which highlights the serious importance of this issue.

As of 2022, the only provinces and territories that explicitly include gender identity under their human rights codes are Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and the Northwest Territories. However, other regions note that they have ruled that it is a protected under existing legislation.

Attending and participating in local Pride events is one way to support the 2SLGBTQAI+ community.

Here are some Vancouver Pride events happening this summer.

East Side Pride kicks off Pride Season with a fun afternoon filled with free entertainment, including giant Jenga, a parachute game for kids, queer trivia and a barbeque supporting the SAIGE Community Food Bank.

East Side Pride is happening on June 25 from 11 am to 6 pm at Grandview Park in Vancouver.

Thrive with Pride, the afterparty for East Side Pride, will feature live music by 2SLGBTQAI+ and BIPOC artists.

Thrive with Pride takes place on June 25 from 7 to 11 pm at the Fox Cabaret in Vancouver.

Queer Panel History is a live online event connecting viewers with various queer activists, including Brandon Yan, Chris Morrissey, Paige Frewer, Karmella Barr and Orene Askew as they share their experiences.

Queer Panel History is happening virtually on July 26 from 7 to 8:30 pm.

While Pride Month is celebrated in June, the Vancouver Pride Society hosts its annual Pride Parade in July.

The 44th annual Pride Parade on July 31 in downtown Vancouver is BC’s biggest Pride event. Together Again will be the first Vancouver Pride festival since 2019, and for the first time ever, the Vancouver Pride Society will be featuring collaborations with QTBIPOC organizations throughout the city to amplify racialized talent.

To learn more, visit vancouverpride.ca.

Published on June 10, 2022.