First Island Pride event brings community together in love and support

LITTLE CURRENT—The first ever Pride Manitoulin event was held last weekend in Little Current and brought together community members from across Manitoulin and off-Island in a celebration of love and equality.

“It exceeded any expectations we had,” said Pride Manitoulin organizer Sarah Seabrook on behalf of the committee. “It was very emotional for me—it was not that long ago that there was nothing for the LGBTQ2S community on Manitoulin and in the last year we have had a (LGBTQ2S conference) and Pride event. This is the biggest event in my life next to having my children.”

Ms. Seabrook commented that all the Pride events were well attended including the ring workshop, flag raising, art installation, drum circle, trivia night, colour run and boat cruise.

“Before the parade Sunday morning I looked around and there were a couple floats and I was happy, then five minutes before there were so many and so many people that had come out—it was amazing to see,” said Ms. Seabrook. “It was pretty incredible seeing all the people lined up along the road downtown to see the parade and the dance party in front of the (Little Current United) Church.”

“I never thought I would see a Pride event on Manitoulin,” said Aaron Bowerman of Sheguiandah First Nation, who returned home from Toronto to participate in the weekend. “I grew up with friends and family who supported me and I had an easy time coming out—but for some youth they may not have the same support and it is important for them to know that if the time comes, their community supports them. I was surprised by the community support—walking in the parade I saw some faces in the crowd I didn’t expect, which was amazing to see. It was really emotional.”

“I was so excited that Sarah (Seabrook) organized this,” he added. “She worked so hard and she made this happen for the LGBTQ2S community.”

Dorothy Stewart said that she was also pleased by the event.

“My son (who identifies as gay) grew up on Manitoulin and I never thought I would see a Pride event on the Island in my lifetime,” said Ms. Stewart. “I was happy that this was organized and that I got to see my son walk in the parade.”

Ms. Seabrook said she felt there was a need to start a Pride event on Manitoulin.

“It is important for us to build diversity on Manitoulin,” Ms. Seabrook explained of the importance of Pride. “We have so many creative and intelligent people on Manitoulin and they need to know that they are supported and can thrive here.”

Ms. Seabrook noted that not everyone was supportive of Pride Manitoulin, referencing an online negative comment about the Pride flag raising.

“A number of people commented back explaining the importance of Pride and the Pride flag,” shared Ms. Seabrook. “The individual who had made the negative comment apologized and said that they were uneducated and didn’t realize. Pride is about educating the public and letting people know that LGBTQ2S people are part of the community.”

Ms. Seabrook and the Pride Manitoulin committee plan to make this an annual event, expanding it to a full week next year.

“We want to give all the communities on Manitoulin the opportunity to host different Pride events throughout the week, but we will keep the parade in Little Current,” said Ms. Seabrook.