LAKE MELVILLE, N.L. — Residents of the Lake Melville area are gearing up for the annual Pride celebrations.
Pride celebrations have been happening in Happy Valley-Goose Bay since 2010, with the Safe Alliance taking the lead most years.
They describe themselves as a "volunteer-led group committed to providing support resources to individuals regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two spirited, queer, and questioning (LGBT2SQQ) issues, while raising awareness throughout Labrador on issues relating to homophobia and heterosexism.”
Denise Cole co-founded the Safe Alliance in 2009 with several friends and other community volunteers.
“Being a volunteer with Safe Alliance and pride activities is just an extension of who I am. Same as being community minded, a land protector and an active supporter of Labrador and the planet as a whole is a just a part of being myself,” said Cole, who also works at the Labrador Friendship Center as the Coordinator for SHIELD (Sexual Health Information Exchange Labrador District).
In the years since Safe Alliance was first founded the events have grown each year.
Cole notes the youth-led pride march in 2017 was “very inspiring.”
This year there are many events planned, such as Pride Boil up on the Beach, and a Pride Craft night to prepare props for the pride march. There will also be a documentary screening at the College of the North Atlantic campus.
All of the Pride Week events are free and open to the public, and are drug and alcohol free.
Meanwhile, Labrador City is gearing up to host their own pride week starting July 15. An event organizer, George Lim, said the event is well received by the majority of the community.
“We received an overwhelming number of people showed up during our first year. In consecutive years we have regular amount of people show up but still in healthy numbers.
“The reason Pride came to be in Lab West is because of a wonderful friendship between three local girls. One of three was questioning at that time and was not receiving support from her environment. So her wonderful friends decided to throw Pride for her. We have helped many find courage and acceptance in themselves and in others.”
Labrador City’s pride week will include events such as Pride Yoga and Paint Nights.
While both weeks are very exciting, organizers said there is still more support needed.
“Many people do not realize but we get contacted year round to share resources, make connections, speak at local schools and attend different events to ensure Labrador’s LGBTQQ2+ individuals are supported,” said Cole, adding, “Right now, it’s all volunteers who take time away from their lives to do this very important work.”
She said organizations that put equality, inclusion, and LGBTQQ2+ focus in their work need to step forward and join in a more formalized way.
“We need more support in the way of funding, representation, and ongoing autonomy.
“Don’t get me wrong; having community support for Pride Week is incredible. Still, we need structure and stability to make sure we can provide the awareness; events and support people need year round,” said Cole.
Lim echoed those comments, saying, “We are always looking for volunteers and committee members. We encourage people to get involved and celebrate for being themselves.”
For those interested in learning more about Pride, they can view the event schedule on the “Safe Alliance” page and feel free to contact Safe Alliance if they have more questions.