British Columbia

Police officers can participate in Pride Parade but with conditions

Vancouver police officers are allowed to participate in the 2017 Pride Parade if they do so as part of the City of Vancouver's entry and the majority don't wear uniforms.

Officers to walk in as part of City of Vancouver entry and vast majority will wear T-shirts, not uniforms

Vancouver Police officers and volunteers who walk in the Pride Parade have agreed to do so as part of the City of Vancouver's entry. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Vancouver police officers are allowed to participate in the 2017 Vancouver Pride Parade, given they follow conditions set out by organizers, which include no uniforms for the vast majority of members.

Participation of police officers was brought into question last year, after Black Lives Matter Vancouver asked police to voluntarily withdraw its float from the Pride Parade, as a "show of solidarity and understanding" that officer involvement in the march creates an unsafe atmosphere for some communities.

"There is a genuine concern for safety. These minorities are marginalized and vulnerable groups have been historically oppressed by police and the symbol of that oppression is [the] uniform," said Kieran Burgess, managing director of The Vancouver Pride Society.

Participants at the 2016 Dyke March in Vancouver hold a sign in protest of the police participating in the annual Pride parade. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

Police can participate in this year's parade as long as they join in as a civil entry and march along with the City of Vancouver.

"In the past it has been police, then fire, then ambulance. This year they will all be marching together in T-shirts with exception of firefighters on their rigs and recognized officers in the community," said Burgess.

According to the society, only 20 per cent of the officers, including those officers visible in the community, will walk in uniform. For example, Chief Constable Adam Palmer or LGBTQ liaison officer Dale Quiring.

The Vancouver Police Department says it will participate in the event for the 21st time despite the conditions.

"The pride parade is an opportunity for us to not only show support for the community, and a distinct group within that community, but to show support for our members that identify as being part of that community group," said Fincham. 

'Department sensitive'

He added that the department is sensitive to concerns raised by the community and doesn't find the conditions unreasonable.

No marked police or law enforcement vehicles will be allowed in the parade. Sirens are also not allowed to be used during the parade.

The two sides have also agreed to participate in a series of listening circles leading up to the parade.

"[That] basically allows people in [the] community a safer space to tell police about times they've felt oppressed and issues they have with the VPD," said Burgess.