Montreal

Montreal Pride Festival cancels parade

Organizers of the Montreal Pride Festival cancelled Sunday's parade, citing a lack of security staff for the parade route. The organizers said they were short 80 people — not enough to keep the parade route safe.

Organizers cite lack of security staff for parade route; other events go on as planned

People waving rainbow flags walk down Sainte-Catherine Street.
Would-be-parade-goers marched on Ste-Catherine Street despite the cancellation. (Jennifer Yoon/CBC)

Update: Montreal Pride organizer says parade was cancelled because hiring staff was 'never done'

Organizers of the Montreal Pride Festival cancelled Sunday's parade, citing a lack of security staff for the parade route.

The organizers said they were short 80 people — not enough to keep the parade route safe. 

Earlier, Montreal Pride had tweeted that the decision was made in collaboration with Montreal police. They later corrected their statement, saying the decision was made by the organizers alone.

Events taking place at the Esplanade du Parc olympique, including the closing show with Pabllo Vittar, went on as planned. 

Crowds braved the rain at the Esplanade du Parc olympique on Sunday evening to catch the remaining festival events. (Sean Henry/CBC)

Tens of thousands of people were expected to attend Sunday's parade.

Simon Gamache, executive director of Montreal Pride, said organizers thought the parade could take place up until Sunday morning.

"It's heartbreaking," Gamache said."We hope that we're able to organize something else in the next few weeks, few months to replace what we unfortunately had to cancel today."

WATCH | Organizers cancel Montreal Pride parade:

Montreal Pride parade cancelled due to lack of security staff

2 months ago
Duration 2:26
Montreal Pride Festival cancelled its annual parade due to a lack of security staff for the parade route.

Limited staffing

Although Montreal Pride held several events earlier this week, Gamache says the limited number of staff and volunteers was always an issue.

"It was really always close every day," he said. "It went well, but it was not easy behind the scenes."

He says the organization will meet with its financial partners in the coming days.

At a news conference on Sunday, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said she was shocked to learn of the parade's cancellation.

"If we had been made aware of the lack of staff or anything else, [we] would have put in the necessary energy," she said. 

Thousands turned out to walk in the Montreal Pride parade, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. (Peter McCabe/The Canadian Press)

"My frustration this morning is realizing that it seems there were decisions made, but we were never informed, and that's disappointing," she said.

Off-site pride events

Hours after the announcement, members of Montreal's 2SLGBTQIA+ communities started co-ordinating off-site events. 

Salem Billard, a queer activist, planned a sit-in at Place Émilie-Gamelin at 1:30 p.m. in protest of the cancellation. A crowd of would-be parade-goers gathered there to march down Sainte-Catherine Street.

Two people stand in a crowded park.
Salem Billard, left, co-organized a sit-in at Place Émilie-Gamelin following the parade cancellation. (Jennifer Yoon/CBC)

"We were promised a place for our voices to be heard and now it's been taken away," they said. "I feel like it's a shame, because whether or not it's a security issue, it could have been announced to us way before that.

"We're now living through so much violence, even going to Pride events.… And we want to take back that place as our home and not a corporate festival [event]."

Celeste Trianon, an activist who independently organized Saturday's Montreal Trans March with nine other volunteers, called the last-minute cancellation "a sheer lack of transparency that's hurting so many right now."

Crowds of people walk in a Montreal street.
On Saturday, hundreds of people attended the independently organized Trans March. (Fenn Mayes/CBC)

"Some people travelled literally from France, from outside of this continent, to participate in this parade. And it's just unacceptable that they cancelled it four hours before it was slated to begin," she said.

Trianon added that grassroots events like the Trans March allow members of communities to protest without being drowned out by corporate interests.

"Fierté Montreal had a whole year to organize the march. They have all the resources in the world ... it makes no sense."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Holly Cabrera

Journalist

Holly Cabrera is a journalist with CBC in Montreal. Reach her by email at holly.cabrera@cbc.ca

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