PM Justin and wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau march in Toronto Pride parade
Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde is 1st national Indigenous chief to march
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau marched in Canada's largest Pride parade on Sunday.
Trudeau was casually dressed in a blue blazer and pink shirt, waving to the thousands of people who lined both sides of the parade route down Yonge Street.
His wife waved a rainbow flag, one of the symbols of the LGBTQ community.
Trudeau became the first sitting prime minister to march in a Pride parade during last year's event. This year he was joined by other dignitaries, including Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde.
It was the first time a national chief has participated in a Pride event.
"When you think of it historically, there were two-spirited people amongst our tribes and nations long ago and they were highly regarded, highly respected," Bellegarde told CBC News Network this morning.
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"They were our medicine people, they were ceremonial leaders — and as we've always said, there's no closet in teepees."
Generally, 'two-spirited' is a term that refers to an Indigenous person who can draw on both male and female energies, but its meaning can change in various contexts.
After contact with European settlers, the influence of the Christian church prevented many two-spirited Indigenous people from embracing themselves.
Bellegarde admits that today prejudices persist both on and off reserves. He hopes his participation in the Pride march will encourage all two-spirited Indigenous people, as well as their communities, to live a fulfilling life.
"We have to get back again to holding them in high regard," he said. "Education and awareness leads to understanding, and that leads to action."
Toronto's long-running Pride festival draws huge crowds to the downtown area each year to celebrate the city's LGBTQ community. More than 150 groups and organizations will participate in this year's parade.
The party will close roads and could affect your travel around the city. For all the details about closures and transit diversions click here.
No uniformed police
But uniformed police officers will be absent from the march this year, after parade organizer Pride Toronto barred police floats from participating earlier this year.
In January, organizers decided to adopt a list of demands issued by the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter, which included a ban on police floats.
The issue first came to widespread public attention during last year's parade, when members of the anti-racism group staged a sit-in that halted the march until Pride organizers signed a list of demands.
Black Lives Matter has argued that allowing uniformed officers at the parade could discourage marginalized communities from attending.
Parade organizers say that officers are welcome to attend the parade, so long as they don't bring their uniforms, weapons and cruisers along.
With files from CBC News