The second-annual Pride North of 55 event went off without a hitch during the week of June 22-27. This year there were some changes, the biggest one being the declaration of Pride Week by the City of Thompson, and events took place all week throughout the city, with the theme of love is love.
On June 22, the City of Thompson raised a Pride flag at city hall during a flag-raising ceremony and there was a sweat lodge on June 23, and a youth dance on June 26, in partnership with R.D Parker Collegiate’s Gay Straight Alliance GLOW.
On June 27 the indoor mini-festival took place with children performers, choirs, drummers, and some dance performances by Winnipeg drag queens, who came up for the event.
Michelle Smook, chairperson and founder of Pride North of 55, said this year marked a special point in time, with the United States and their Supreme Court ruling of marriage equality on June 26. “I would like to thank everyone who has supported our initiative, members of the LGBT community, allies, friends, family and community partners. Your support is what allows for us to occupy this space and bring this very important pride to Thompson.”
Niki Ashton, Churchill NDP MP was also in attendance, and noted that there should be more than just an event once a year for the LGBTQ [lesbian, gay, bisexual,transgendered and queer] community. “We’re here to celebrate Pride week, but every single day in our workplaces, in our schools, in our education faculties, our stores, and our homes, should be Pride friendly, it’s important that we all stand up for LGBTQ rights, and we stand up for diversity so that’s the message we’re sending.”
Jason Douglas with Pride Winnipeg was also in attendance for the mini-festival. Pride Winnipeg and Pride North of 55 have a relationship unlike any other Pride festival in North America. Pride North of 55 is part of the rural development program with Winnipeg Pride and is the only rural pride in the province.
Pride week in Thompson ended with an adult dance party which saw the drag queens come out for a second show.