Pride Parade brings rainbows to Montreal's streets

The colourful large-scale Montreal Pride Parade took over the city's east end on Sunday, marking the final day of festivities celebrating the city's sexual diversity and plurality.

'A march to remember how far we've come, but how quickly rights can be taken away,' Mark Tewksbury says

Mado Lamotte, Montrea'ls most famous drag queen, at the Pride Parade Sunday. (Verity Stevenson/CBC)

The colourful large-scale Montreal Pride Parade took over the city's east end on Sunday, marking the final day of festivities celebrating the city's sexual diversity and plurality.

"I think in a way it's a celebration," said Olympian and former competitive swimmer Mark Tewksbury, who is a grand marshal at this year's event. 

"But it's also still a march to remember how far we've come but how quickly rights can be taken away."

The annual parade usually draws huge crowds, and this year there were a number of high-profile guests and politicians marching in honour of the LGBT community.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marched in the Pride Parade with Ireland's openly-gay Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

"It's an event that reminds us that we are all part of the same community," Trudeau said at a morning news conference alongside Varadkar.

"Every year Montreal pride events bring together millions of people, gathering in peace and friendship to celebrate who we are."​

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, talks with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during the annual pride parade in Montreal on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre were also at the parade. Gay rights activist Stuart Milk, the nephew of legendary LGBT activist Harvey Milk, was a parade grand marshal.

The Quebec division of the Canadian Armed Forces was also an official participant in the parade. 

While members of the CAF have been allowed to march in LGBT parades in uniform by request in past years, this was the first time members were being widely encouraged to do so as a group.

With Pride festivities in full swing, the City of Montreal and its police force also issued a public apology earlier this week to the LGBT community for past institutional discrimination and crackdowns on gay bars and clubs from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Extra funding from Ottawa

The federal government also announced Sunday that it would be giving $463,000 in funding to Pride Montreal, the organization behind the annual festivities held across the city.

"This colourful party allows us to celebrate the culture and pride of LGBTQ2 communities," said Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly.

"And allows us to bring together people of all ages and backgrounds."

Montreal's Pride Parade drew a large crowd, stretching from downtown to the Gay Village along René-Lévesque Boulevard. (Verity Stevenson/CBC)

Montreal Pride organizers announced earlier this week that they tripled their security budget for this year's festivities, including the parade, to quell fears following high-profile vehicle attacks in public areas.

With files from Simon Nakonechny