After a 3 year hiatus, Pride returns to Edmonton to celebrate diversity, youth

Pride returned to Churchill Square in Edmonton this weekend with a diverse lineup of musical acts, comedy shows, drag performances and more.

It has been four years since the city held major Pride events over police diversity and inclusion issues. In 2019, the Pride Festival was canceled just 10 days before the start of events.

Trevor Watson, executive producer of Edmonton PrideFest which is hosting the weekend’s event, said he was happy to see Pride return to its “home” in Churchill Square.

“Once we announced that Pride was returning to Churchill Square, I think it brought a lot of people to tears in the community,” he said.

Teenagers Phoenix Phillips (right) and Onyx Ellis attended their first Pride event on Saturday at Churchill Square in Edmonton. (Julien LaTraverse/Radio Canada)

In light of concerns about diversity and inclusion in the local LGBTQ community, organizers released a statement encouraging people to wear red in support of queer and/or trans people who are also black, indigenous and/or from color (QTBIPOC).

PrideFest asked attendees to bring non-perishable food donations for Raricanow, an Edmonton nonprofit dedicated to helping the QTBIPOC community.

After several years without events, Watson said it was great to be back.

Edmonton PrideFest took place June 24-25 at Churchill Square in downtown Edmonton. (Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC)

“We haven’t had a big Pride celebration in several years,” he said. “So what’s so exciting about today [is] it is the first pride of so many people.”

Two youngsters who experienced their first Pride were teenagers Onyx Ellis and Phoenix Phillips.

Ellis said it was great to be in a positive environment where different gender identities are respected and included.

This sentiment was shared by another first-time participant.

After four years without Pride events, Watson said he expects this to be the first Pride for many people. (Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC)

Chloe Savard said it’s important to have events like PrideFest where the LGBTQ community can come together and offer each other support and acceptance.

“I think it was just part of finding community and also feeling understood,” Savard said. “So to find people who are so open to simple conversation, I don’t feel like I have to explain myself all the time.”

Crowds gathered in Churchill Square in downtown Edmonton to celebrate Pride on Saturday afternoon. Other events are scheduled for Sunday. (Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC)

Savard’s mother also attended the event on Saturday — a sign of support that meant a lot.

“I think that’s what I appreciate the most is that even if she doesn’t know, she tries.”

Plans for next year are already underway and Watson has high hopes for Pride 2023.

“I don’t want to announce it yet, but we’re working on something that starts with the letter P going down the street, but I can’t say what it is.”