Brandon Trans Day of Action march, parade in Churchill mark end of Pride month in Manitoba

A southwestern Manitoba city marked a first with its inaugural Trans Day of Action march this weekend — while more than 1,000 kilometres away, what may be the northernmost Pride festival in Manitoba was underway.

Vehicles honked in support as about 20 people waved a mix of transgender, non-binary and Pride flags while marching down 18th Street in Brandon for the city’s first Trans Day of Action march on Saturday, said organizer Leila Praznik.

While Manitoba’s second-largest city held its ninth annual Pride parade earlier this month, Praznik said Saturday’s march draws attention to issues transgender, two-spirit and non-binary people face. 

“Trans and gender-diverse people have often been lost in the larger queer movements and haven’t had … the same support as, say, there have for cisgender queer issues,” such as marriage equality, she said.

The march was intended to raise awareness and encourage people to take action, said Praznik — for example, by calling on local politicians to examine policies that may negatively impact transgender and gender-diverse people. 

Praznik said she was inspired to organize a Trans Day of Action march after seeing other cities across Canada show their support for the transgender and gender diverse community, especially when they face comparatively high rates of violence

“I think that sort of support … is a very necessary thing to have if we’re going to continue to maintain our rights in the face of all these sorts of attacks on us,” she said. 

Praznik said the march was “a pretty significant milestone” for the community, and she hopes to keep the momentum going by doubling or even tripling its size next year. 

She hopes the day of action will also encourage people to reach out to a transgender or gender-diverse person they know and strike up a conversation about what social change they might like to see. 

“I think it’s that sort of allyship — if we get that, that will really make all the difference for us,” she said. 

Churchill celebrates 3rd Pride

Meanwhile, the northern town of Churchill celebrated its third annual Pride with events taking place this weekend.

Nickia McIvor-Ruiz, an organizer with the Churchill Pride committee, said they were excited to facilitate the first event on Thursday afternoon with a drop-in art session. 

In an interview with CBC Radio’s Up to Speed, McIvor-Ruiz told host Faith Fundal it’s a big deal to have a weekend dedicated to celebrating Pride in a community with a population of just under 900 people.

Pride is about being seen in your community, they said.

“In high school, I didn’t get to see Pride all that much, but now, you know, wherever you go — my little cousins, my friends, relations, just all of our younger relations — can see themselves and feel welcomed in the community,” McIvor-Ruiz said. 

“It’s so important that they can feel safe, that this is a place where they can grow up no matter who they are.”

LISTEN | Nickia McIvor-Ruiz on Pride celebrations in Churchill:

Up To Speed5:50A big Pride celebration for a small community

Nickia McIvor-Ruiz is one of the organizers of Churchill Pride. They tell host Faith Fundal what people can expect to experience at the town of Churchill’s third annual Pride festival.

As more people participate in Pride events and raise awareness about issues 2SLGBTQ+ people face, McIvor-Ruiz said they have been using this month as a “safety blanket” to have discussions about using they/them pronouns with others. 

“I love it. It’s a comfortable term for me and I’ve been exploring that since like 13 or 14 years old, when I would show up to math class with my different names,” they said. 

Churchill’s Pride events on Friday included drag bingo and a performance from Bannock Babes — a trio of Indigenous artists from Winnipeg. 

The events also included a parade at noon on Saturday, a barbecue and a “drag Q&A,” inviting people in the community to anonymously submit any questions they may have been too shy to ask through an online portal, McIvor-Ruiz said. 

“I just want to see people with their curiosity first and exploring, questioning, having that intrigue,” they said. 

Bannock Babes will perform again on Saturday evening to wrap up the weekend’s events in Churchill.