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Manitoulin Island getting ready for first pride parade

The sleepy northeastern Ontario getaway will have its first pride parade this August.

Island Pride will be on 'island time'

Pride Manitoulin is scheduled to run Aug. 18 to 20 in Little Current. (Facebook -Pride Manitoulin)

It's a step into the present for Manitoulin Island.

The sleepy northeastern Ontario getaway will be having its first pride parade in August.

Sarah Seabrook, co-ordinator and founder of Pride Manitoulin, told CBC's Up North that Island Pride will be different from other events around the country.

"We really want to keep it slow paced and not overwhelming people with a ton of events and things going on," she said. 

"We want people to tour the island, tour around and experience what there is to offer like our hiking trails, beaches, art galleries and local restaurants."

The group has also enlisted the help of a few community members.

The Ojibwe Cultural Foundation will be hosting art installations, while the North Channel Cruise Line will be having a pride tour. Seabrook said Manitoulin Secondary School's gay-straight-alliance is even hosting a fun run.

Grandma Seabrook's House

Once the profile of the group is raised, Seabrook hopes they can approach more sponsors and get another project off the ground — a safe space for the LGBTQ community called Grandma Seabrook's House.

It's named after Seabrook's grandmother. She says she envisions the house as a place for community members where they don't have to question their acceptance or safety.
Sarah Seabrook hopes that Grandma Seabrook's House provides safety and comfort for anyone who feels they need the support of a community. (Pride Manitoulin-- Facebook)

"My grandma, Marion Seabrook, passed away in 2014. To a lot of people, she was a well-known person. She was a school teacher, businesswoman, writer, philanthropist," Seabrook said.

"She accepted everyone no matter how they identified."

Seabrook said she hopes the facility provides the same welcoming feel as her grandmother evoked in others.

"There's a lot of people in the closet, scared to come out," Seabrook said.

"We wanted to give it a name that didn't scream 'we're all about LGBTQ.' You can just come here, if you don't know, you're just scared and you're not outed for accessing a service. That's why we named it after her."

The festival is scheduled to run from Aug. 18 to 20 in Little Current.

With files from Wendy Bird and Cathy Alex

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