Pride Haldimand Norfolk is committed to diversity in safer spaces by continuously providing education, programming, entertainment, and visibility with the Two Spirited LGBTQIA+ community in the Haldimand Norfolk region of Ontario. With the knowledge of our history, ongoing education, passion for creativity, and bringing people together, the Pride Haldimand Norfolk Board of Directors and committee ensure there is a platform and place where our community has a sense of belonging, safety, and culture for our Two Spirited LGBTQIA+ identified individuals and their allies.
The first annual Haldimand Norfolk Day was celebrated on Saturday May 24, 2017 in Dunnville’s Central Park. The group that organized this event was very small, with most of the work being done by 3 people. The main organizer Ken Hancock lived at Maple Grove Place, an assisted living residence in Dunnville. Planning for the event began a year prior to the May 27th 2017 date.
The planning group ran a successful social media campaign, via this Facebook page. The local press, the Sachem and the Haldimand Press reported there was 200-300 people in attendance. For a first time event in our rural communities, it was a successful and historical event.
We believe that Pride Day Events are about enhancing the quality of life and well-being of all residents in our community. It is public gathering, to support Two Spirit LGBTQ+ family, friends and neighbours. By gathering in public, we say to our community that we believe in human rights, and that we will stand up for them. We recognize that Two Spirit LGBTQ+ youth are particularly vulnerable to bullying and mental health issues, including higher suicide rates. A visible, tangible event like Pride Day conveys the message that they are accepted, valued, and loved. It allows them to make new connections in their communities. It is also an opportunity to showcase Two Spirit LGBTQ performers, artists, entrepreneurs and speakers.
Last year we identified that the inaccessibility of the stage in Central Park would be a barrier and when they were asked, Haldimand County provided a ramp for our use that day. One of our performers, BFlix, used a motorized wheelchair, and he was very impressed, saying that it was the first time he was ever actually on the stage in a park in the County.
Last year’s event included local and area performers: Nate Waldes, Marcus Henderson, Darcy Feaver (Hamilton), Lacie Hill (Six Nations), H, Ben and Megan (DSS students) and Rick Henderson. Speakers included Rev. Warren Bloomfield from Grace United Church in Dunnville, Mark Ens, a teacher at Dunnville Secondary School, Jennifer Jacobs, Director of Nursing at Grandview Lodge and several other youths and activists. The event was supported by local business and organizations: Sweet Retrospect, Debb’s Cuisine on Queen, OSSTF/FEESO, OPSEU, PFLAG Niagara, Six Nations Pride, and Haldimand Art Works.
There is no doubt that many of the people at the event in 2017 were from Dunnville, but we know there were people from all over Haldimand-Norfolk, Niagara, Hamilton, Oakville, and Toronto. On Facebook we heard from people all over Canada, a few from the USA and some from the UK! We had coverage by Cable14 and reporters from Xtra Magazine in Toronto came to cover the event. Haldimand-Norfolk Pride Day was included in the Sachem’s “150 Reasons to Visit Haldimand”. In the fall of 2017, Haldimand Norfolk Pride Day was the award winner for Community Festival and Event Award (Minor), acknowledging the organizers’ outstanding volunteer achievement.
As a result of this historical event, a fledgling PRIDE group has emerged. PRIDE Haldimand-Norfolk is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in our community and providing equal opportunity to people of all genders, sexual orientations, and gender identifications.
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