Prince George got loud and proud Saturday for the 19th annual PG Pride Parade.
More than a thousand people came out for the event driving and dancing through downtown to the tune of blasting music and the waving of pride flags. President of the Prince George Pride Society, Stacey Hewlett, says she was overwhelmed by the turn out. “Love and kindness is going to save our world and right now as a planet we are lacking that and so it’s so great to show the rest of the world that Prince George has some love and kindness.”
Especially for those who may still be having trouble finding themselves, Hewlett says everybody is welcome in our diverse community. “Be you, it can be scary, but it’s worth it and it does get better, love and kindness will win.”
Others members of the LGBT community like Rachel Bates, say more than ever the community is growing stronger and stronger. “Pride has always been a big movement, but in the wake of the Orlando Shootings, Pride this year is a lot more poignant than it has been in other years, so this year is especially important,” Bates said. “Everyone in the community was heartbroken over Orlando so it was so important all of us came together and kind of gave each other support and also kind of helped to heal our wounds.”
Eli Bergen came out as gay a couple of years ago, now 17 he’s a strong advocate for his fellow peers. “I’ve been so closed off from the community, so it’s great to be out here and see everyone,” he said. “I’m actually transgender so it’s a little hard, I came out when I was fifteen and it’s been a struggle, but my family and friends have supported me through it.”
The support for the LGBTQ community is growing more so in schools as well. President of the Northern Undergraduate Student Society, Arctica Cunningham, says the Northern Pride Centre and everyone on campus at UNBC is welcoming. “We want to show our students that we really do care and it is a priority for us that everyone feels welcome and that they can be who they are without any judgement.”
Even as a parent, Brianne Russell brought a long her two daughters to the parade for a third straight year. She says it’s important to teach her kids to be supportive and open to everyone. “We want to expose them to as much stuff as possible to understand that whatever happens in their lives, we’re there to support their friends and we love them no matter what.” Russel said. “We want to imprint our values on them on being inclusive and showing respect towards everybody.”
Many organizations joined in on the event as well, fundraising for the Prince George Pride Society and a number of support programs for the LGBTQ community. All money raised will stay in Prince George.
A Pride Dance also takes place Saturday at The Coast Inn of The North from 7-11 p.m.