The 2019 Edmonton Pride Parade Festival has officially been cancelled.
Organizers issued a release on Wednesday, April 10, stating that the group’s board of directors voted to cancel the colourful event, as it was believed that the parade could not be a success given “the current political and social environment.”
The Edmonton Pride Festival Society (EPFS) release also noted that current events have made them believe that they would not be able to achieve their goal of hosting “a safe and enjoyable event that is as reflective and encompassing of the entire community as possible,” and that more information would be released within the coming week.
The cancellation announcement comes less than one week after a controversial meeting that saw police called after members of Shades of Colour, a community APIRG group that exists to advocate for queer and trans Black people, Indigenous people, and people of colour, arrived to make speeches during the meeting.
According to a post published on Shades of Colour’s Facebook page, The Edmonton Pride Festival Society believed that Shades of Colour and RaricaNow, a non-profit organization that promotes the rights of LGBTIQ+ refugees and newcomers in Canada, had arrived to protest, which prompted the call to police.
Shades of Colour states that neither their members nor RaricaNow’s members were protesting.
“As of today, Edmonton Pride Festival has stated that shades of colour and RaricaNow attended the meeting on April 4 to protest. This is blatantly untrue,” the post read.
“The signs we held and posted on our Instagram pages were intended for solidarity as we made our speeches. (Our prepared speeches can be shown on our Facebook pages.) RaricaNow brought a refugee to make a speech about his deportation notice and how this coincides with the theme of stonewall and QTIBPOC specific workshops.”
Following EPFS’ decision to cancel this year’s Pride Parade, Shades of Colour issued a release stating their disappointment at the outcome.
“It is with profound disappointment that we express our appallment at the actions carried out by the Edmonton Pride Festival Society, which culminated in their decision to cancel the 2019 Pride Festival,” an April 10 Shades of Colour post read.
“We are calling this decision for what it is: namely, a disavowal of deep systematic problems in the framework of EPFS as well as an attempt to dismiss, target, and put out of play the efforts put on the part of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour in the LGBTQ2S+ to point towards alternatives on how this organization carries out its activities.”
The 2018 Edmonton Pride Parade was halted for over half an hour after protesters, who were outraged that police and military were allowed to march in the event, stopped the parade in its tracks.
This protest was the climax of months of debate over whether or not members of the police force should be present at an event celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, which has historically been oppressed by law enforcement throughout the previous decades.
In the months leading up to the April 4 meeting, Shades of Colour had laid out a list of seven demands for the 2019 Pride Parade, which included that the event open with a “protest lead by QTIBPOC, trans folks and their allies” that would replace the Pride Parade, and that all participants of said protest be either approved or denied by Shades of Colour and RaricaNow following an application process.
The demands also included that both Shades of Colour and RaricaNow be supplied with $20,000 each of the annual funds, that the SOC Team and the RaricaNow team be provided with money to access ongoing training, that $1,500 be provided to fund a SOC organized QTIBPOC sober dance party on the evening of pride, that a public accountability statement outlining the harm the EPFS has caused the QTIBPOC community be written along with a public commitment to rectifying that harm, that Shades of Colour and RaricaNow be featured on the front four pages of the Pride Guide, and that EPFS work with RaricaNow to support QTIBPOC refugees and newcomers.
The full post has been published below:
EPFS noted in their cancellation announcement that there will still be other Pride events to attend throughout June, and that more information on the board’s decision would be made available in the coming week.
“We greatly appreciate all the support you have given to the Edmonton Pride Festival Society and we sincerely apologize for any upset and inconvenience this causes,” they said, in the release.
“We would like to use this opportunity to remind you that there are many other excellent LGBTQ2S+ organizations that will be putting on Pride events during the month of June.”