By Tina Shaygan, September 4 2017 —
Thousands took to downtown Calgary on Sept. 3 to take part in the 27th annual Calgary Pride Parade. Among those marching were politicians, non-profit organizations and members of the University of Calgary community, including U of C president Elizabeth Cannon.
Cannon said that the university’s growing participation in Pride is important to the school.
“It is demonstrative of our commitment to inclusion and diversity. It is important that we are there and it is reflective of our values. It is important not only to our internal community but our external community as well,” Cannon said.
Cannon added that marching in the parade is also important to help the U of C follow through on its organizational commitments.
“Last year we went through our renewal of Eyes High strategy and very clearly in there we talk about inclusivity, diversity and respect. It is important to put that into action,” she said. “We are not just talking about it, we are doing it.”
Queers on Campus co-chairs Margaret Patterson and Priya Lalwani said the U of C’s participation is essential to the campus community.
“A lot of professors show up and that is fascinating,” Lalwani said. “Thank you for coming. It is so awesome to see you.”
“Of course, there may be some people that don’t share the same values personally or in their teaching, but there are so many people that you’re going to know that you have people that support you,” Patterson added.
Members of the Students’ Union ranging from executives, faculty representatives and staff members also marched in the Pride Parade. SU vice-president student life Hilary Jahelka said the SU marches so they can show their support for LGBTQ students and services on campus.
“The SU is marching to celebrate all the progress that we’ve made through the Q Centre and gender-inclusive washrooms. I’m just excited to see what is happening on campus with the Q Centre and Queers on Campus,” Jahelka said.
Members of the Q Centre — the SU’s centre for sexual and gender diversity — also marched. Coordinator Tabatha Wallace said the Q Centre attends the festivities to celebrate LGBTQ history and promote the Q Centre’s mandate.
“I’m so excited to see a space where people can be themselves and it is a day where anybody can come out and feel comfortable in their own skin,” Wallace said.
Among politicians marching were Alberta premier Rachel Notley and other members of the New Democratic Party caucus, as well as mayor Naheed Nenshi. Some members of the newly formed United Conservative Party — who Calgary Pride barred from marching in this year’s parade — attended as spectators, including interim leader Nathan Cooper and Calgary-Foothills Member of the Legislative Assembly Prasad Panda.
“We want to continue to build relationships with the community and continue to work closely together and that hopefully in time we will be able to also participate,” Cooper said.
Other participants from U of C included members of the university administration, faculty deans and student clubs. About 20,000 people attended the Pride Parade.