Less than two months before the annual Edmonton Pride parade was set to take place, the Edmonton Pride Festival Society board of directors voted to cancel this years parade partly to do with demands made by two local social justice groups.
Last Thursday, a board meeting was held to discuss a list of demands put forward by Shades of Colour and RaricaNow, two organizations that represent queer people of color in Edmonton. The demands included spaces for queer people of color, a sober dance party, $20,000 to be given to both Shades of Colour and RaricaNow, and a “public accountability statement” of the harm EPFS has allegedly done against queer people of color.
The same two groups organized a demonstration that shutdown last year’s Pride parade for over 30 minutes calling for the organizers to uninvite Edmonton police, RCMP and military personnel, amid a Canada-wide debate over the presence of police in Pride parades.
Four representatives from the two groups were invited to speak at last week’s meeting, according to Clayton Hitchcock, co-chair of the Pride Festival Society. But roughly 30 showed up and pushed their way into the room. One of the members of the board feeling unsafe called the police.
V. Guzman of Shades of Colour, a Latinx non-binary person who uses they/them pronouns, said no one from the group was arrested and police were co-operative.
Later that day, the festival announced on Facebook the meeting had been moved to a second location and later decided to cancel the Pride parade.
“In light of the current political and social environment, it has been determined that any attempt to host a festival will not be successful,” reads the email from the board of directors. “Please keep in mind that we are a not-for-profit organization run almost solely by volunteers.”
Despite the cancellation of the parade the other Pride events are still going forward.
“Losing the parade is a blow,” said one of the owners of the Evolution Wonderlounge in Edmonton . “Losing that massive Pride in the Park party is certainly a blow. But Pride isn’t cancelled.”