Yellowknife Pride events: Here’s how to celebrate

‘We need  festivals to be reminded of how Pride began,’ says Rainbow Coalition of Yellowknife executive director 

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When the Rainbow Coalition of Yellowknife took over of the city’s Pride festival earlier this year, the organization set out with a renewed vision: To make the celebration inclusive for all LGBTQ2S+ community members.

The coalition aimed to achieve its goal by organizing a mix of crowd-drawing community events with low-key activities and workshops, encompassing both the collective celebratory spirit of Pride while catering to queer and trans folk who may feel overwhelmed by the festivities.

“What we did is we tried a series of events that didn’t necessarily rely on group participation and didn’t force people to be outgoing in loud, crowded spaces,” said Chelsea Thacker, executive director of the Rainbow Coalition of Yellowknife.

From a trivia and karaoke night to a cookout and a tattoo fundraiser, the events are designed to be enjoyed individually or in groups.

“You can attend these events and feel like you can still be part of Pride and not have to give 110 per cent,” said Thacker.

Held on Monday night, the all-day marathon tattoo fundraiser for the Rainbow Coalition was just one of the new additions to Yellowknife’s Pride festival this year.

In February, the coalition took on the responsibilities of organizing the festival after the dissolution of NWT Pride.

With only a few months to plan the festival, the Rainbow Coalition of Yellowknife and a team of dedicated volunteers – there are about 60 this year – pulled everything together, creating a jam-packed lineup of events that not only celebrate the LGBTQ2S+ community but raise awareness about issues that are important to its members.

“One thing that’s different about the Rainbow Coalition and how we host events is that we don’t just look at celebration and fun,” said Thacker. “We also look at education and outreach.”

Thacker said Pride provides an opportunity to familiarize the public with “concepts or issues that they might not be aware of but are very pressing for our community.”

On Thursday, the coalition hosted a panel discussion that urged medical practitioners to be more mindful of LGBTQ2S+ people accessing health care services.

Brendan Burke/NNSL photo.
‘I believe firmly that we need Pride festivals to be reminded of how Pride began, as well as how we continued to struggle to make sure that we have all our rights and freedoms,’ says Chelsea Thacker, executive director of Rainbow Coalition of Yellowknife.
Aug. 8, 2019.

In a time of heightened social and political division, Thacker said Pride celebrations are as important as ever.

“I believe firmly that we need Pride festivals to be reminded of how Pride began, as well as how we continued to struggle to make sure that we have all our rights and freedoms,” she said.

Pointing to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada as an example, Thacker said some people take the milestone as meaning LGBTQ2S+ people no longer have to fight for their rights.

That’s not the case, she said.

Thacker said the LGBTQ2S+ community still faces various forms of violence.

“It’s still very alive and real for us,” she said.

“Pride celebrations are important because we need to connect with our community and remind people that we can stand together and support one another to make sure we’re all safe and healthy and free,” she added.

But the spirit – and the point – of Pride shouldn’t end after a week, she said.

“For 365 days of the year, we need to be looking at what needs to change in order to make our community safety,” said Thacker.

Pride events this weekend: 

Friday, Aug. 9

Drag Queen Story Time 

Where: Somba K’e Civic Plaza

When: 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Rainbow Cabaret 

Where: Top Knight

When: 9 p.m.

19 plus event; $25 entry fee

Saturday, Aug. 10 

Rainbow Run 3K and 5K 

Where: Somba K’e Civic Plaza

When: 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Rainbow Community Fair and BBQ 

Where: Somba K’e Civic Plaza

When: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Rainbow Cabaret 

Where: Top Knight

When: 8 p.m. 

19 plus event; $25 entry fee

Pride Party

Where: Folk on the Rocks site

When: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

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As the Yellowknifer’s crime reporter, it’s my job to keep readers up to speed on all-things “cops and courts” related. From house fires and homicides to courtroom clashes, it’s my responsibility to be there - day or night, rain or shine. When I’m not at court gathering stories, I’m in the office, making calls to lawyers, emailing RCMP and tracking down sources. After hours, I rely on the public to let me know what’s happening and where. Entering my second winter in Yellowknife since leaving my hometown of Peterborough, Ont., in October 2017, everyday on this beat continues to be challenging, rewarding and fulfilling. Got a story? Call me at (867) 766-8288 or shoot me an email at editorial@nnsl.com.

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