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North Bay Pride March — 'Hate Has No Home Here'

It is basically getting back to the grassroots of Pride, because of the rise in hate and misinformation

Organizers and participants in the North Bay Pride March were keen to stress the message that “hate has no home here.”

“We want people to march and take back the streets from hate and send that clear, clear message that love is love and hate has no home here,” said Pride Communications Director Jason Maclennan.

The streets of downtown North Bay came alive with colourful floats, followed by local dignitaries, friends and family walking or lining the route to the North Bay waterfront.  

In past years the event was referred to as a parade, but due to recent events,  Pride North Bay decided a name change was in order, which is why it is now a march versus a parade.  

“It is basically getting back to the grassroots of Pride, because of the rise in hate and misinformation especially, that has been targeted around the transgender and drag community,” explained Maclennan.

“It is really important to recognize that denying someone’s identity is not a matter of opinion, and that is what’s happening, so when you see things like the Minister of Education and our Premier talking about outing the youth in schools, you start to become very concerned. Let’s not forget all the protests and the online hate that has been unbelievably high, much higher than I’ve seen it in my lifetime.”

Alisha Fournier, a member of the North Bay Pride Board of Directors agrees.

“Pride originally always started as political and we want to remind people that we are here and this is a safe space,” explained Fournier.

“So, it’s not just about a parade, it is also about remembering how hard we’ve had to fight and where we came from.”                     

The North Bay Pride community is not immune to instances of hate both online and in person.

“There’s enough online hate to raise concerns,” shared Maclennan.

“When we changed over to a march, we actually got a lot of support for that concept of changing how we’re doing it and our messaging. We got overwhelming support from all across the country. We made national headlines when we did that, so it was actually reaffirming to what we were doing. So, the board decided we were on the right path and that we needed to send a clear message. And locally we’ve heard from people all over our community who are really excited that we’ve done this, and we’ve heard from people from Ottawa and Toronto who said they were coming here. So, it’s clearly the right message at the right time.”

Hot off the heels of winning Friday night’s drag competition, Lua, who hails from Windsor, was thrilled to join North Bay’s Pride March for the first time.

“It was important for me to be a part of this because this is such a grand opportunity to showcase my talents and showcase who I am as an artist,” Lua explained.

“It’s also been a great opportunity to meet all the local people that perform here as well. It has been so special for that reason alone.”

Lua also got behind the March’s name change.

“I feel like calling it a ‘march’ has more power instead of calling it a parade or even a walk, because a march means we’re claiming our power and we’re claiming our right to be here. A march is like ‘We’re here, we’re queer, we’re not going anywhere. This is our power and see us in our full light.’”

As Jason Maclennan pointed out, no two people are exactly the same.  

“We’re all different in some way, but community is about loving each other and supporting each other, and it shouldn’t matter what your gender is, your sexual orientation is, or the colour of your skin. We’re part of a community and we all deserve to be treated fairly, and with dignity. It is important because when our community thrives, we all thrive and why wouldn’t we want that?”