North Bay Pride is ready to kick off Pride Week with a full roster of events, and everything is a go now that the Pride Flag is flying over the city. It was raised this afternoon to much applause from the many who gathered near the steps to City Hall.
“I love this community,” Jocelyn Green told the crowd, “And I will stand for this community and for our community.” Green is the CEO of North Bay Pride, and throughout the event she held a sign close that read “hate has no home here.”
Jason Maclennan, the treasurer for North Bay Pride, urged all “we have to stop this online hate, we have to stop the hate in our communities, we have to stop hate in society in general.”
“And that’s what Pride is about,” he said, “Pride is a protest.” Yes, things have improved for members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, but there is still much prejudice and exclusion that needs to be eradicated to achieve balance and equality. As a positive example, MacLennan cited the recent law that bans conversion practices.
North Bay Police chief Scott Tod attended to show his and the department’s support for Pride. He mentioned that seeing the flag serves as a strong reminder for officers “to reflect on our service and commitment to provide care with respect to all communities.”
“All Canadians are entitled to celebrate their sexual orientation, diversity, gender identity and expression,” he added. “They must be afforded the full protection of the law in doing so, and they are entitled to bias-free policing in their daily lives.”
Many cast and crew members from the television show The Lake attended the ceremony, and Jordan Gavaris, an actor from the show, said a few words as well. He shared with the crowd how growing up he often felt out of place, like a “misfit toy,” and finding a community who accepted and understood him made all the difference. Since then, the Pride flag always reminded him “that I was welcome.”
“No matter how lonely I felt, or how confusing and exclusionary the world seemed, there was always a seat at their table for me, exactly as I was,” he said. “Because who we are is beautiful. And that’s what I think about when I see the rainbow flag.”
“This flag represents an idea of how the world could be,” he continued to the enthralled crowd. “An idea that our community embodies every single day, where people are acknowledged and loved for who and what they are, where even misfit toys get seats at the table, and the price of admission is just being who you are.”
After Gavaris’ poignant speech, North Bay Mayor Al Macdonald addressed the crowd, and officially declared today, Sept. 14, Pride Day in the city of North Bay.
“North Bay is an inclusive, diverse and welcoming city for everyone,” he said.
For a full list of Pride Week events, be sure to visit North Bay Pride’s website.
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.