Toronto

Activist and pastor Brent Hawkes leads final Pride service

Known in Toronto's LGBT community for his life-long activism, Hawkes is set to retire — but not before joking with a crowd that included PM Justin Trudeau.

Hawkes, fixture of Pride's traditional pre-parade service, will retire at the end of the year

Pastor Brent Hawkes led his final Pride service on Sunday in Toronto. (Global News)

Brent Hawkes, a pastor and LGBT activist who has led a religious service prior to Toronto's Pride parade for over 25 years, has conducted his last Pride ceremony.

He spoke candidly to Sunday's congregation, which included Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Canadian political leaders Kathleen Wynne and Justin Trudeau attended Hawkes' final Pride service on Sunday. (CBC)

"Good news — Bill C-16 has passed," he announced to cheers, citing last week's addition of gender expression and identity to federal discrimination law.

Hawkes is retiring at the end of this year after 40 years of service to the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto.

"It's been a wonderful way to connect to the community and bring religion and spirituality back to the heart of the community," Hawkes said of his annual sermon.

"It's been an amazing honour to have been part of this for so long."

Hawkes told CBC earlier this month that his retirement plans include founding an international organization aimed at preventing homophobia fuelled by religious beliefs. (CBC)

Hawkes lauded Pride for bringing together a sundry crowd, including parents and newcomers to the country.

"It's such a wonderful expression of diversity," he said

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