Vanderhoof will hold the first Pride walk in the community’s history at Riverside Park in the afternoon on June 25. Pride walk organizer Kjerstina Larsen said the event is about “celebrating and embracing the idea that we are all equal.”
Larsen has been preparing for the event since last summer and hopes to have stations set up with face-painting, rock painting, beading, coloring, a reading corner and photo station.
“It’s kind of a free-for-all. I’m going to encourage people to dress up rainbow. If they don’t have stuff I have purchased over 30 flags… Hopefully with that and everyone’s existing rainbow stuff there will be enough,” Larsen said.
“The spirit I’m hoping to go for is mostly just to draw out a lot of allies… So they have the opportunity to show up and support.”
Larsen said there has been some controversy around LGBTQ2+ issues in Vanderhoof with some in the community not feeling safe to express their identities openly.
Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen said he’s planning to attend and that the district council fully endorses Pride.
“What I’m hearing from council is that we want to show that not only are we an inclusive community but that we value each and every citizen in our community,” Thiessen said.
“We want to make sure that they feel very much part of our community. It’s a time for us to really show who we are as a town and how we care about those around us.”
Initially the plan was for a Pride-themed photo shoot but when restrictions lifted Larsen began planning more activities.
“All of a sudden I had a really great response from the community and so it turned into an event.”
Larsen said since it’s their first Pride event it’s going to be small but could grow into something bigger going forward. Possibly a full-on Pride parade. The hope is that having a Pride event will open the doors to more tolerance in a community that has taken more time to “catch up.”
“I would like for there to be less hate and more love. There’s a lot of misconceptions and I think that just causes a lot of fear for people — and they’re scared of being different,” Larsen said. “I would just like to see the community more united.”
Vendors that would like to create and sell any Pride and rainbow merchandise during the activities are invited to get in touch and set up a booth.