Noted social worker Robert Wright named this year's Halifax Pride ambassador
'He is truly honouring us by being our ambassador,' says chair Morgan Manzer
As Halifax Pride preparations rev up, its new ambassador wants to ensure there's a seat at the table for everyone in the queer community.
Robert Wright said he feels his role is to help bridge the gap between those in the queer community who are gaining more equality with those who are still marginalized.
"Serving as the ambassador to Pride is a reminder ... that we need to always look to and care for people who are on the fringes," he said.
The Pride ambassador is replacing the position that was previously known as grand marshal.
Wright said not everyone in the queer community is on the same playing field.
"As queer people become accepted in larger society, there are some queer folk who then are experiencing privilege," he said.
Wright believes it is important for those people in the queer community to recognize that shift.
"I think it really behooves those of us who are queer who have experienced a little privilege to be mindful that we are the allies and the siblings of the queer folk who are still in the margins," said Wright.
Through his career as a respected social worker, Wright has worked with a lot of queer persons who he says are in the margins.
"They're queer people of colour, they're Indigenous, two-spirited persons, they're trans individuals, they're poor, queer folk, they're queer folk who have suffered abuse and neglect, who experience mental health concerns," said Wright.
His 28-year career has spanned the fields of child welfare, forensic mental health, trauma, sexual violence and cultural competence.
'We are just really lucky to have him'
Halifax Pride chair Morgan Manzer said the ambassador role is meant to showcase a queer person who has "significantly contributed to the community."
Wright previously served as the race relations co-ordinator of the Dartmouth District School Board, executive director of Family and Children's Services of Cumberland County, and the executive director of Nova Scotia's Child and Youth Strategy.
Wright is the founder of and currently runs ManTalk, a treatment and support group for male victims of sexual violence.
"We've learned from Robert's experiences and he has been so gracious to impart so much of his knowledge and wisdom on us," said Manzer.
"And we've implemented a lot of Robert's suggestions so far, so we are just really lucky to have him."
How the ambassador is chosen
Halifax Pride's board of directors chooses the ambassador based on nominations from the community.
Manzer said Wright's long history of work in the community makes him an ideal ambassador.
"It is not like we're bestowing some honour on him, he is truly honouring us by being our ambassador," said Manzer.
In the past two years, Halifax Pride has been working on creating a more inclusive space for queer folk who have intersecting identities such as LGBT black, Indigenous and people of colour.
Manzer said it's Pride's responsibility to ensure everyone in the queer community has a voice, and said they still have a long way to go.
"We need to have all the voices at the table and we need to recognize when voices aren't being at the table and why is that," he said.
In 2017, Halifax Pride created a safe-space policy and updated its accessibility and parade policy in an effort to ensure diverse voices are heard.
Wright will begin his duties at the Pride flag raising on July 19, where he will deliver a speech.
Halifax Pride runs from July 19-29 this year.