Approximately 30 members and friends of the LGBTQ community met with members of the North Bay and District Labour Council Monday night, to brainstorm ideas for a major PRIDE event for the city.
The Ontario Federation of Labour recently released a copy of the 2017 Ontario Pride Events calendar. The list of participating communities included Sudbury and Timmins, but North Bay is noticeably absent. Local labour president, Henri Giroux is offering his membership's manpower, organizational skills and financial support, to get a large scale event, like a PRIDE march, ready for July if there is enough interest.
"Labour strongly works with the LGBTQ and equality committees. What we're seeing in this area is that events are happening, but they're not very well publicized," said Giroux. "We want to have something for the entire community where everyone can go and have fun. We'd also like to have information booths set up at the waterfront during the march to educate people, because they don't know what its all about."
Giroux said labour wants to address the absence of large scale PRIDE events in the community. He said he attended a meeting a year ago with 25 other people, but the ideas just stayed in the room.
"We don't know the reason why, and that's why tonight was a good eye opener where there was all kinds of open discussion, but at the end of the day we want to be sure to put something together," said Giroux "We just felt that we need to look at having something broader than what's happening now. Labour brings a long history of being a part of these events, but we don't want to be there in a leading way, this is their event."
Jason MacLennan is the former president of the AIDS committee of North Bay. He said there are a lot of people who are unrepresented in the community.
"They really need that voice to point out that it really is a safe community. I think the next step forward is to strike a committee and come up with a mandate of how we're going to move things forward, and it looks like with labour's support, that's actually going to happen, finally."
MacLennan said the committee needs to be comprised of members from the LGBTQ community, labour and some of the agencies involved that provide a safe haven, like the AIDS committee.
Some of those in attendance told Giroux that moving forward requires inclusive leadership.
Meg Ramore explains.
"It's not so much important to me what it looks like but how it gets there. Often within the LGBTQ2S plus communities and movements, it's for us, by us. So regardless if its a picnic, if it's a dance, if it's a parade, as long as it's organized in a thoughtful process and has a decent representation by LGBTQ2S plus folks, I think that is where it should go."
Another woman who asked to be identified as 'Two Spirited', as she is known in her culture, told those gathered that the LGBTQ community needs to learn to work together.
"I think if we can somehow accommodate each other then I think there's the possibility North Bay in the long run, will have that PRIDE march and that's what I'm hoping for."
Labour council member, Amanda Farrow-Giroux said having people come to the table is a great place to start.
"We first have to identify that there is a need for something to happen on a regular basis," said Farrow-Giroux. "Our role was to help facilitate something that we can build on. In no way is it to be derived strictly out of labour, it's not about that. Labour just brings a long history of being a part of these events."
The next scheduled meeting is Monday, June 26 beginning at 5:30 at Nipissing University. The plan is to create a working committee to organize a march for sometime in July. Giroux says he has already heard from organizations which have made a commitment to help move the event forward.