Calgary Pride Parade Stands Against Rising Hate Crime Stats, Advocates LGBTQ2S+ Support

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A kaleidoscope of rainbow hues unfurled itself in downtown Calgary on Sunday, as streets brimmed with vibrant flags marking the Calgary Pride Parade.

The event held significant meaning for Eren Schroeder, who identifies as transgender. Schroeder shared their journey, acknowledging its challenges but expressing pride in their authenticity and the community they’ve discovered. Suitably adjacent was Schroeder’s mother, Tamara. She stood by their child, bestowing free embraces on any who desired them. Her ultimate ambition, she mentioned, was to foster an environment of love and support for her child and other members of the community.

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Schroeder voiced her constructive criticism on societal attitudes, pointing out the often prevalent hostility towards individuals, especially those who are queer or trans. “Building a safe home is, in my view, the most beneficial thing a parent can provide for their child,” she noted.

In the backdrop of this event, worrisome data emerges. According to figures from Statistics Canada, police-reported hate crimes against the LGBTQ2S+ community saw a staggering 64% rise between 2020 and 2021. Other concerns loom large with drag performances receiving backlash through protests, and policies regarding the use of pronouns and names in schools, raising controversy in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.

Nevertheless, efforts towards inclusivity were in full swing during the pride parade. Anna Kinderwater, the communications manager for Calgary Pride, emphasised their resolve to design a safe space for all attendees. “Despite the prevalent anxieties and frustration, our objective is building a supportive environment for everyone, particularly trans individuals and drag performers,” she said. “We are fervently working to ensure the parade resonates with celebration, not fear.”

The Mayor of Calgary, Jyoti Gondek, underscored these sentiments, highlighting the necessity to be both an ally and an advocate. She made a note of the support the LGBTQ community has historically lent to other groups, stating that it was now time for them to receive support in return.

Voices shared similar sentiments. June Nemisz expressed her respect for the gay community, wishing for their flourishing. While Vince Jackman, yet another participant, said: “As part of the community, it’s pivotal that our voices are amplified now more than ever.”

A whopping 200+ floats and countless spectators gathered for the parade, including representation from the CTV News and Virgin Radio teams. Event organizers remained buoyant, expressing hope about the event’s expansion in forthcoming years. The goal being for individuals to bask in such celebrations locally, without needing to journey to other cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, or Montreal.