Not taking things for granted: Pride Winnipeg kicks off with flag raising at City Hall

The Pride flag is now flying at City Hall in Winnipeg, and many the 2SLGBTQ+ community are not taking the moment for granted. Joanne Roberts has the story.

Although the skies were grey in Winnipeg Friday morning, the 2SLGBTQ+ community brought their colours and were loud and proud as they watched the Pride flag being raised at City Hall, kicking off the Pride season all across the country.

“This day and me standing on City Hall ground, where we just raised the Pride flag, means a lot,” said Éric Plamondon, a Queer artist in Winnipeg.

Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham along with other city officials and Winnipeg Pride members raised the flag together Friday morning. (Photo Credit: Joanne Roberts, CityNews)

“You kind of hold your head a little higher, you wear your colours a little brighter, and you kind of discover how other people are doing it too.”

Plamondon was one dozens of people who watched Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham and members of Pride Winnipeg raise the flag.

“To have a mayor that is here, present and engaged in raising the Pride flag is something that we shouldn’t just take for granted,” said Plamondon.

Queer artist Éric Plamondon says he’s not taking the flag raising and clear support from City Hall for granted. (Photo Credit: Joanne Roberts, CityNews)

Traditionally, Winnipeg kicks off Pride month, with events across the country following throughout the month of June.

“It’s a true honour and it’s something that we take pride in because we’re kicking off Pride season every year. A lot of the rest of Canada looks to us and says, how’s everything going in Winnipeg? What does Winnipeg do different than the rest of Canada?” asked Barry Karlenzig, the president of Pride Winnipeg.

Karlenzig says the way Canadians celebrate Pride makes it very clear that Canada is not a country that tolerates hate.

“Be true to who you are, be your authentic self and don’t be afraid. There are going to be people there who are going to support you no matter what,” said Karlenzig.

“If you think back to 1987 when the first march in Winnipeg – or 1987 when you saw the marches across Canada, people were walking with bags over their heads because if they were found out that they were part of the community, they could have been assaulted. Fired from their jobs and arrested in some provinces in Canada, because of the laws that were still there. So to see the flag hanging, it shows diversity. It shows inclusion and it truly shows that Winnipeg and especially Canada is a place of equal rights and freedom.”

Pride Winnipeg president Barry Karlenzig says it’s an honour to launch the Pride season across the country. (Photo Credit: Joanne Roberts, CityNews)

Plamondon echoes the sentiment, saying Pride is not only about celebrating the community — it’s also about continuing to advocate for its space and its rights.

“That was true 22 years ago when the first Pride flag was raised in Winnipeg, but it’s also true today,” said Plamondon.

“Rights are not won and then forgotten. They need to be reaffirmed, reclaimed. Pride is a moment to do exactly that with a smile and with all the colours of the rainbow.”

The Pride flag is now flying at City Hall, kicking off the Pride season in Canada. (Photo Credit: Joanne Roberts, CityNews)

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