Thousands participate in biggest Winnipeg Pride parade yet

Thousands in Winnipeg donned every colour of the rainbow Sunday afternoon, joyfully moving through the streets of downtown during the Pride Parade. 

The parade began at 11 a.m., and travelled down Portage Avenue before ending near The Forks later in the afternoon. 

“It’s a party of community of people who you just get along with and understand you on a fundamental level, but also just on the surfaace,” said Yuna Park, who attended their first Pride parade Sunday. 

Barry Karlenzig, president of Pride Winnipeg, said it was the biggest parade the organization has had. There were over 6,000 people in the parade itself, he said. 

“The turnout really was the biggest piece,” he said. “We had an amazing turnout.”

Blockade pauses parade 

A blockade of protestors halted Sunday’s parade on Portage Avenue near Fort Street for a short time.

A statement handed out by the protestors said the group is demanding Pride Winnipeg “end complicity with genocide, divest from corporate pinkwashing, remove police from Pride and centre QTBIPOC leadership.” 

The statement said Pride has “strayed from its revolutionary roots, so far that today we protest Pride itself and hold accountable those who claim to represent us.” 

Protestors said in the statement they call on Pride to return to “being a space of community building and celebration of radical queer and trans joy for all,” with a focus on those who are BIPOC, unhoused, sex working, migrant and disabled.

A group of people during the parade.
A blockade of protestors briefly stopped Sunday’s parade. (Bryce Hoye/CBC )

Pride Winnipeg said in a statement issued later Sunday that discussions were “held at the blockade to reach a collective agreement for change.”

The statement also said Pride Winnipeg is committed to working with all areas of the community, starting with regular consultations moving forward to ensure that our organization and its events represent the voices and the diversity of all 2SLGBTQ+ individuals. 

Those consultations will begin next week, according to the statement. 

The statement also said the community-led group that gathered to block the parade did so peacefully, expressing their right to protest for change within Pride Winnipeg and Pride celebrations. 

The parade was paused for about 20 minutes, according to Pride Winnipeg.

Rally before parade also draws huge crowd 

A group of people are pictured standing on stairs, with some wearing rainbow-coloured flags.
The rally kicked off at 10 a.m., an hour ahead of the parade, which will travel down Portage Avenue and end near The Forks around noon. (Arturo Chang/CBC)

A rally was held before Sunday’s parade in celebration of love and the pursuit of equal rights outside the Manitoba legislative building. 

Hudu Abdl Hamid, who goes by they/them pronouns was at the rally and said they fled their home country of Ghana in West Africa out of fear of persecution and arrived in Winnipeg last fall.

Hamid said coming to Winnipeg felt like coming home because they are protected by the Canadian government.

“Being LGBTQ+ in Ghana is hell. You’ll either be lynched or killed,” they said.

“Being an LGBTQ+ person is a privilege. Look at how lovely it is here.”

Dieth Aquino de Leon, who came to Winnipeg in 2015, is a part of Bahaghari Pride Manitoba — a community group that aims to help 2SLGBTQ Filipinos in Manitoba feel celebrated.

“It’s very important to have representation, because a lot of people in our community don’t believe that we should exist,” he said.

Celebrating Pride feels great, “because we know who we are,” Noel said.

“Wherever you go, we are everywhere and we’re not going anywhere.”