Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay's Pride event aims to knock down stereotypes

Thunder Pride was officially kicked off at a ceremony at Thunder Bay's city hall Tuesday morning.

Week of celebration expected to drawn thousands from the city, northwestern Ont. and the United States

In Thunder Bay this morning, Thunder Pride organizers and promoters officially kicked off the fifth annual event.

The fifth annual Thunder Pride was officially kicked off at a ceremony at Thunder Bay's city hall Tuesday morning.

​As O Canada played, both the Rainbow flag, and the flag for Thunder Pride were raised by event organizers, and Mayor Keith Hobbs.

The week-long celebration of diversity in Thunder Bay will run from June 7-14.

The week is about knocking down stereotypes, Thunder Pride co-chair Jessica Ross said.

"It's opening people's minds. It's awakening people to the idea that everybody is different, and that's OK. And it doesn't have to be just an LGBT thing, [it can include] everybody."

Thunder Pride has continued to grow since it started five years ago, she said, adding that in its first year, it drew about 200 hundred people. Last year, that number grew to about 3,000. Ross said organizers are expecting that number to double this year.

Thunder Pride as a learning opportunity

One of Thunder Pride's ambassadors has seen just how far the event has come in the past five years. Collin Graham, who is also well-known for performing in drag as Paloma Marquez, said the celebration had a "humble start," but now, there are more and more partnerships being developed with the community, various agencies, and businesses.

There's still work to do though, Graham added.

"If we as a community want to grow, we need to be able to be more fluid and understanding of the sorts of privileges people have in the community," he said, adding "there can be a lot less oppression and in some situations, stigma, if we engage in meaningful dialogue."

Thunder Pride will include a night of healing, a movie night, drag show and the Pride Parade, among other events, Graham said.

Check out the photos from last year's Thunder Pride event: