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Raising of two-spirit flag in Thompson symbolizes ‘a future of acceptance and love’

Pride celebrations returned to Thompson in a big way June 11, with dozens of people marching up the eastbound lanes of Thompson Drive from the arena to City Hall.

The first large-scale event to mark Pride month in Thompson since before the 2019 pandemic June 11 was bigger than ever before. 

Well over 100 and possibly close to 200 people marched down Thompson Drive from the arena to City Hall, filling both eastbound lanes of the street and receiving numerous honks of encouragement from passing motorists.

The ninth year since Pride was first celebrated in Thompson in 2014 included the first raising of the two-spirit flag up the flagpole in front of City Hall as speakers envisioned a future in which everybody can be proud of who they are.

“I myself am a two-spirit person and I grew up ashamed to be Indigenous and ashamed to be queer,” said Harlie Pruder of Pride North of 55, the group that organizes Pride events in Thompson. “This is something that it took me a long time for me to be proud of. And you should be proud of who you are.”

Though it’s positive to see the two-spirit flag flying in Thompson for the first time, Francis Budd said the end of the struggle has not yet arrived.

“There’s so much work to be done. But the good news is there are so many of us, even us here today. They’re working hard to eliminate these barriers in our culture, our society.”

Ace Doran-Campbell, who identifies as a two-spirit, non-binary individual, said they were proud of how Thompson has changed since they were young.

“I knew I was queer from a pretty young age,” said Doran-Campbell. “I remember that sense of jealousy for people who were able to attend big Pride events in Winnipeg or Toronto. It makes me happy to know that we’re at a point where you’re holding events like this in your hometown and you don’t have to move to Toronto or Winnipeg when there’s one right here in our community.”

Doran-Campbell also said that the symbolism of the flag is important.

“The raising of the flag symbolizes hope and it symbolizes a future of acceptance and love,” they said. “For those youth driving past, this flag on our City Hall symbolizes hope for them in a future where they can be themselves.”