By Scott Strasser, September 4 2016 —
Chilly weather and overcast skies did nothing to dissuade thousands from attending the Calgary Pride Parade on September 4.
The annual parade is the signature event of Calgary Pride, an 11-day celebration of gender and sexual diversity and the LGBTQ community.
More than 4,000 participants from 140 groups and organizations marched this year. Around 60,000 spectators lined 9th Avenue as the high-energy parade made its way downtown.
The University of Calgary was well-represented at the event, with more than 350 people marching. U of C president Elizabeth Cannon marched, as well as representatives from nine U of C faculties and various student groups.
“It was a great display of our commitment to diversity and inclusion,” Cannon said. “We’ve always had an inclusive community at the university, but to go out and participate in broader events in Calgary shows the rest of the city and beyond what we have and what our values are.”
Faculty of Arts dean Richard Sigurdson said the U of C’s presence has increased at Calgary Pride in recent years. The Faculty of Arts marched officially with a banner for the first time this year.
“We didn’t have an organized university event until a couple years ago and then so many people from the university came to march,” he said. “Just as the Pride Parade has grown tremendously over the last few years, so too has the contribution from the university.”
Student representation in the parade was at an all-time high. The U of C Students’ Union and members of the Q Centre marched for the fourth consecutive year, while 16 members of the Queers on Campus student club marched in the parade sporting tie dyed shirts.
“One of our core values as an organization is inclusivity and I think this is our chance to celebrate the huge success the SU’s Q Centre has been,” SU president Stephan Guscott said before the parade.
As always, the Calgary Pride Parade included a strong political presence. Alberta premier Rachel Notley marched for the second consecutive year. Liberal MP and minister of veteran affairs Kent Hehr also took part.
This year’s parade grand marshal was transgender writer, musician and filmmaker Rae Spoon.
Following the parade, participants converged at Shaw Millenium Park for Pride in the Park, which featured a live concert, marketplace and beer gardens.
The U of C also had a booth at Pride in the Park.
“We talk about connecting to the community. [Pride] is an important way to be able to do that and demonstrate what we stand for,” Cannon said.
With over 60,000 spectators, organizers estimate 2016 marked the largest ever attendance of the Calgary Pride Parade.