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2019 Edmonton Pride Festival cancelled due to 'political, social climate'

Last Updated Apr 10, 2019 at 8:18 pm PDT

Summary

Leaked email from EPFS says Pride is cancelled because of 'current political and social environment'

Reaction pouring in on Twitter as people express heartbreak, disbelief

EDMONTON (CITYNEWS) – A colourful festival celebrating the LGBTQ2S+ community won’t be returning to Edmonton this year.

The Edmonton Pride Festival Society (EPFS) says its board of directors has decided to cancel the 2019 parade and party due to the “current political and social environment”, but there has been criticism from other groups about whether or not that’s the real reason.

A CityNews viewer sent us a copy of the email the EPFS sent to its members informing them of the cancellation.

In it, the society says “It has always been the goal of the Edmonton Pride Festival Society to host a safe and enjoyable event that is reflective and encompassing of the entire community as possible; however, given current events, we do not feel that this is attainable for this year.”

The board of directors calls this a difficult time and thanks the LGBTQ2S+ community for being patient and understanding.

“We greatly appreciate all the support you have given to the Edmonton Pride Festival Society and we sincerely apologize for any upset and inconvenience this causes. We would like to use this opportunity to remind you that there are many other excellent LGBTQ2S+ organizations that will be putting on Pride events during the month of June. Should you desire to still sponsor Pride events, we would be happy to help connect you with these groups.”

The email also says anyone who donated to the event will be refunded within the next month.

Reaction on Twitter has been pouring in–one person writes “this is what happens with extremes are allowed to influence public policy.”

Many people on Twitter are sharing their disbelief and their sadness at the news.

“This is beyond disappointing, it’s devasting for so many that not only look for fun in a safe space but for those still finding themselves. Those who are questioning, closeted and now won’t see that beautiful public display of acceptance,” tweets Jed Johns–a sentiment shared by many.

“This is what happens when extremes are allowed to influence public policy. Extreme left and extreme right. Tearing apart an event that is supposed to bring love and create allies is instead at a flashpoint. I’m so, so disappointed it’s come to this,” said Robbie Kreger-Smith.

“I’m on the verge of tears hearing the cancellation of @YEGPride,” writes user Dylan Chevalier.

 

“I’m shocked that canceling the #yegPride festival is even a consideration. I don’t think this sets a good precedent at all,” tweeted Alexandria Pankratz-Brown.

Pride Society accused of racism, transphobia

Meanwhile, the Edmonton Pride Festival and Pride Society of Edmonton has been surrounded in controversy after being accused by other LGBTQ groups of racism and transphobia.

Shades of Colour and Radical Queer Scholar speculate there’s more to the cancellation than meets the eye and are calling EPFS to be honest about its true reasoning.

Shades of Colour is calling the decision appalling.

“We are calling this decision for what it is: namely, a disavowal of deep systematic problems in the framework of EPFS as well as an attempt to dismiss, target, and put out of play the efforts put on the part of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour in the LGBTQ2S+ to point towards alternatives on how this organization carries out its activities…

We believe this announcement is an attempt to redirect the discontent arising from the cancellation of the Pride Festival onto communities that have done nothing but speak their truth. We will see blanket statements such as “letting the haters win”, but the problem is much more profound than that. In the decisions carried out by the EPFS, no one won, except some lost systematically more deeply than others.”

 

With the awareness that the Executive Directors of multiple 2SLGBTQ+ organizations and institutions are meeting on April 10th, we stress that systematic restructuring of these organizations is in order. With consistent failures to rise to occasions of accountability, we plead for taking a look at what these organizations have become of themselves under its current frameworks.”

Shades of Colour was recently locked out of a meeting.

Shades of Colour had approached the Pride Society about adding more people of colour and more trans people to the parade.

Radical Queer Scholar, which was also barricaded from a recent Pride meeting, posted to Facebook responding to the abrupt cancellation. The group suggests that the reason the party was cancelled might be due to tensions with underrepresented groups.

It says the Pride Society has a “historic and current context of racism, white supremacy, transphobia, and ultimately (and literally) stonewalling QTBIPOC folks.”

“Recently (and since the Pride Protest that stopped the parade in 2018), communities such as Shades of Colour Community YEG and Organization for all Lgbtiq+ refugees in Canada were working with the Pride Festival Society to meet their demands (for representation, resources, funding, and a voice) – which had been seemingly and prospectively hopeful until April 2019. The Board of Directors of the Pride Festival Society blocked the QTBIPOC members and allies, called the police on them, and failed to be responsible or accountable.

The Pride Centre of Edmonton has been behaving similarly, and due to an outpouring of criticism of them, has since shut down their social media.”

People are echoing the opinions of Shades of Colour and Radical Queer Scholar on social media–some going so far as to call the EPFS “cowards”.

“If #yegpride can’t survive basic dialogue with the PoC members of the community, then it doesn’t deserve to live. As for me, I’m excited about what will take its place,” writes one person.

“I think this is an important turning point in the pride culture we have perpetuated over the years. Pride was founded upon fighting for rights of QTBIPOC, and was started by one. This needs to happen so that we can collectively move forward in a positive direction. #yegpride.”

“Allies please take note. Its not an easy fix to just plan another parade unless QTBIPOC folks are included. Who is your parade for? #yegpride.”

 

“Edmonton pride cancelled!! Apparently, the organizers weren’t as inclusive as they should be.”

The EPFS has yet to officially respond to any of the accusations from these groups or formally address the media with an official release.