Edmonton

Edmonton Pride festival may live on, if volunteers step up

The City of Edmonton will support a pride festival this year if someone is willing to take it over.

'The city is still here. We still support the concept of a parade,' Coun. Aaron Paquette says

The Edmonton Pride parade draws thousands of spectators each year. (CBC)

The City of Edmonton will support a pride festival this year if someone is willing to take it over, city councillors told CBC News Thursday.

The Edmonton Pride Festival Society cancelled this year's parade and related events, citing issues from a shortage of volunteers to ongoing discord among LGBTQ2 groups about the festival's makeup.

Coun. Aaron Paquette said he's heard from a few people who may be interested in picking up the festival, but no concrete plan has emerged.

"The city is still here. We still support the concept of a parade. We still support Pride festival," he said. "So if the community comes forward with a workable plan, then we can start having that conversation."

Paquette stressed it's not up to the city to organize a festival, but the city manager's office confirmed the $53,000 available last year for the festival, would be available this year, he said.

"Speaking personally, I would love to see a positive result out of all of this."

Coun. Ben Henderson said he's disappointed the festival has been cancelled but thinks the LGBTQ2 community groups need to sort out the issues themselves.

"I really think it's important to let them find their way through to resolving it," he said. "Intervening I think would probably be inappropriate."

Henderson said he's open to helping any way he can, "but I'd only do it if we were invited."

The festival was cancelled less than a week after a tense Edmonton Pride Festival Society board meeting, where 30 supporters of two groups, Shades of Colour and RaricaNow, showed up demanding changes to the festival, said board co-chair Clayton Hitchcock

Only four representatives from groups, which advocate for people of colour and refugees in Edmonton's LGBTQ2 community, had been invited, he said.

The demands added to the society's decision to cancel the event, Hitchcock said. 

"My heart just continued to break," he said Thursday. "I joined the Pride festival because I wanted to work for my community.

"I wanted to create something amazing for them, so definitely there's a sense of failure. I failed my community."

Mayor Don Iveson said he hopes the community can rally together to get something ready in time. 

"I'm hopeful that in the fullness of time, they'll be some healing in the community, some opportunity to put an event together that satisfies the demand Edmontonians have from all walks of life."

The 10-day event was scheduled to start June 7 with the parade along Whyte Avenue.

@natashariebe

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