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Pride: More Than A Parade

In 1987, Manitoba passed the Human Rights Code, protecting against discrimination based on sexual orientation, prompting the official Pride March in Winnipeg. It wasn’t in 2004 that Manitoba became the fifth province in Canada to legalize same-sex marriage. 

Pride Winnipeg has grown to include communities of diverse sexualities, gender identities, and relationships. Although society has developed tremendously since the first Pride event, the advances in human rights are still very young, and it’s important to stay vigilant in the fight for rights each day of every year, not just during Pride Month. 

“Even in Manitoba, rights are not perfect. Pride Winnipeg is not perfect by all means, shape and form, and we grow every year,” says Pride Winnipeg President Barry Karlenzig. We’re going to make mistakes, and it’s how we work as a community to make sure that doesn’t happen again and how we learn and grow.”

With Pride Winnipeg for ten years, Karlenzig has seen positive changes, but action is still required to make changes, and avoiding complacency is incredibly important. During the inaugural Pride march in 87′, individuals wore paper bags over their heads to conceal their identity, still fearing the prejudice they might face from their neighbours. That’s what Pride symbolizes, a march that has and will always be for human rights. Some may see a parade or a party, but it’s so much more than that, says Karlenzig. It’s very much a protest and movement for equal rights for all members of the “Alphabet” [Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Plus (2SLGBTQ+)] community. Even in 2022, Karlenzig voices his concerns for the BIPOC and trans community within Winnipeg and Manitoba. They don’t have equal rights and still face job discrimination.

But how do we start these potentially uncomfortable conversations with family or friends? For someone in a conservative household or have moved from a country where sexual, gender, and relationship diverse communities and their rights aren’t prominent. 

Two excellent resources to help in those talks are the Rainbow Resource Centre and Sunshine House. New Pride of Winnipeg is a support group through the Rainbow Resource Centre for Newcomers to Canada, immigrants and folks with refugee experience who identify as 2SLGBTQ+. The social support group discusses what your identity means to you and the challenges, experiences, and joys of coming out and living authentically in this vibrant community. Sunshine House is a community drop-in and resource centre focusing on harm reduction and social inclusion. They work to provide programming that fulfills people’s social, community, and recreational needs. Other resources for newcomers include MIIC Welcome Place and Reaching Out Winnipeg. Some programs are also available to help with the individual’s well-being.

“Rainbow Resource Centre has counselling services, and Sunshine House does Too, but Rainbow Resource Centre has amazing counselling resources. They end up footing the bill first because the province of Manitoba doesn’t cover a lot of it until after the fact, this like that,” says Karlenzig. “A child may be transitioning, and they need a counsellor. It might be covered under the parents’ medical or they don’t know who to reach out to. They have these resources so they can book even same-day appointments.”

This is incredibly important as many within the 2SLGBTQ+ face high risks of depression and self-harm, especially for someone who identifies as trans. 

Related article: Understanding Gender Identity

The terms used to identify individual groups can be daunting even for someone who identifies as a member of the larger 2SLGBTQ+ community. It’s important to remember that everyone is working through this human experience together, overcoming hurdles and fighting for a brighter future. Pride is just one step in making that a reality. 

Pride month kicked off May 27 with a flag-raising and celebrations from over 50 community events during the week. The two-day Pride Winnipeg Festival arrives on June 4 and 5.

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U Multicultural.

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