Shining a spotlight on equity and inclusion is the focus as North Bay Pride kicks off a series of events this week.
They include a flag raising, drag contest, trans march and much more.
Jason Maclennan, communications director says Saturday is their big day with the parade, picnic and concerts.
“[It] starts at one o’clock and goes all the way down McIntyre to Cassells, all the way down to the waterfront followed by a picnic with a bunch of vendors,” he says. “Then we have our free concerts with Bif Naked, Carole Pope and Devon Cole on Saturday night.”
Maclennan says the focus is on love, acceptance and unity, especially with a rise in hate and misinformation.
“We want to make sure that our message is clear that hate has no home here. That we’re standing together against hate and misinformation,” he says. “We want to make sure that everybody has equity and inclusion throughout the country.”
Visit northbaypride.ca for the full list of activities and events this week.
Maclennan and other Pride organizations around the province also penned letters to Premier Doug Ford earlier this week, regarding recent comments about a parent’s right to know if their children are making decisions about the pronouns they use to identify themselves.
Earlier this year, both Saskatchewan and New Brunswick adopted new gender and pronoun policies that made it so parental consent is needed for students under the age of 16 to change their given names and/or pronouns at school.
“It is not about parental rights. It is about the safety of our youth in the challenging times when they’re growing up and trying to figure out their gender identity that we should not be outing anybody. We should support that journey,” Maclennan says. “If they can’t tell their parents or guardians because they don’t feel safe, that is on the parents and guardians.”
When contacted on Monday morning by the MyMuskokaNow.com newsroom, a spokesperson for Premier Doug Ford’s office says the government is not planning any legislation that will force teachers to disclose information to parents.
“[Premier Doug Ford] and [Education Minister Stephen Lecce] have both been clear they believe parents must be involved and informed of what is happening in their children’s lives,” said Caitlin Clark. “There are well-established protocols to ensure the safety of children. We’re confident in the existing protocols and are not currently exploring any legislative changes. Parents love their kids. They want to be aware of what’s happening in their children’s lives in their schools, and we expect school boards to be transparent with parents and respect their right to know about life-changing decisions while always ensuring the safety of the child.”
Maclennan says that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen.
“Why is the Minister of Education talking about it? Why in Kitchener did the Premier bring it up,” Maclennan asks. “It doesn’t mean that it’s not going to happen or that they’re not going to do it. It just means they’re not doing it at the moment. They have not clearly said it is not happening at all.”
**With files from Mathew Reisler at MyMuskokaNow.com