Portage la Prairie gears up for Pride march

Portage la Prairie is putting on its first-ever Pride Parade on Saturday. Both Premier Pallister and the local MLA will be on family vacations that were planned before the date was announced.

Premier Brian Pallister and local MLA Ian Wishart won't be attending Portage Pride parade

Thousands of people took part in Steinbach's first Pride Parade in July, but many local public officials, including the mayor and MLA, did not attend. (CBC)

Organizers of Portage la Prairie's first-ever Pride parade are gearing up for this Saturday's parade.

While Will Garrioch is hoping for a big turn out, he won't predict how many will show.

"Seeing this is the first time ever, I have no idea. I hope we are getting a large number of people out because there has been an overwhelming amount of support here in Portage. I know we have people from Winnipeg coming, and I believe some from Brandon. Hopefully Steinbach will come as well," said Garrioch.

Steinbach held its first-ever Pride Parade last month. 

​Pallister, Wishart unable to attend

Premier Brian Pallister and local MLA Ian Wishart will be away on family vacations planned before the Portage parade was announced, according to the premier's aide. 

"Premier Pallister and Minister Wishart are unable to attend Portage la Prairie Pride this Saturday, but will be represented by members of PC Caucus. Our government is pleased to support events that celebrate the inclusive spirit of our diverse province. We wish the organizers a safe and successful inaugural celebration."

The spokesperson for the Manitoba government was unable to say which caucus members will be attending. 

Garrioch isn't miffed the premier and local MLA can't make it. 

"It's a busy time of year. It's totally understandable if people have other things going on. It's very nice that we have our local support here with our mayor, Irvine Ferris. He is going to speak at the rally and march with us. This is a big deal because they didn't have that in Steinbach," said Garrioch. 

Saturday's parade starts with a rally at 10 a.m. followed by the parade at 11 a.m. Garrioch says there is also a social planned for the evening that is already sold out.

Garrioch is a 27-year-old bank employee in Portage who describes himself as a drag queen.  He says he will be performing at the social.