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Another successful Pride

Eve Cable The Eastern Door

It was an afternoon of smiles and rainbows for attendees at Kahnawake’s second annual Pride Parade last weekend, as community members marched through the streets in support of the LGBTQ2S+ community. 

“It’s been awesome, just like last year, to see so much support and how much love has come through our community,” said Jess Beauvais, who was one of the Kahnawake Pride Committee’s organizers. This year was the first year the committee has been its own entity, organizing the entire parade and after-party themselves.

The parade started on Saturday afternoon at the Orville Standup Memorial Park, where community organizations, including Kahnawake Shakotiia’takehnhas Community Services (KSCS), K1037 Radio, and Sharing Our Stories/The Eastern Door gathered their floats, as well as other non-organization based floats made by other Kahnawa’kehró:non. 

One of those vehicles was a fairy-themed float, arranged by friends Tiohawíhton Peterson, Demma Montour, Skarahkotane Deom, and Kaherine Rice-Rossetti. 

The group had bouquets themed after certain flags that represent the queer community, including purple, blue, and pink flowers, paying homage to the bisexual flag, and pink, yellow, and blue ones representing the pansexual flag. The group also draped their float in the two-spirit flag – a rainbow flag with two feathers in the middle.

“We just wanted to come out and show all the people that are afraid to come out for themselves that it’s okay to be different, it’s okay to be spontaneous, to be fun, to be unique,” said Peterson. “Being weird is the fun part, because nobody out there is going to be like you. You’re the only one you’ve got.”

Attendees were welcomed from far and wide, including Onkwehón:we from other communities, such as Dominic Mikkelson, who is from the Michel First Nation, located in Treaty 6 territory in Alberta. This was his second time at Kahnawake Pride.

“It was amazing seeing everyone come out again. It’s just been super accepting, and I’ve been able to make some really awesome friends and I’ve had a great time here,” he said. 

Attendees also included those from out of town, who came to Kahnawake to support the community. One of those people was Claudine Simard, who also brought her young children to the parade.

She said it’s important that children and youth see the 2SLGBTQ+ community being celebrated.

“They should know you can be whoever you are. In our house, there’s nothing that’s just for girls or just for boys, they can do whatever they want and just love everybody, just be themselves,” she said. “For me, the most important thing is just to respect other people.”

Beauvais said that theme was a big focus during the planning process.

“Kahnawake Pride started with a very strong family basis, especially because we’re a community with a large population under the age of 18, so children really do come first in our community,” they said. 

“We really put in the love to make sure children and all families are included.”

Volunteers stepped up to make that vision a reality, including Kevin McComber, who took the wheel of the lead bus, which headed up the parade as it moved through town. There were also buses that dropped and picked up attendees throughout the community. 

“It was a good experience seeing all the people,” McComber said. “They all had fun, waving their pom poms while they were riding the bus.”
Community member Paul Pronovost also lent a hand, signing up as a last-minute volunteer for the parade. He directed traffic and helped set up the after party at Karonhianónhnha Tsi Ionterihwaienstáhkhwa.

“I saw they were short-handed, and I just wanted to donate my time,” Pronovost said. “You could tell everyone was having a good time, there was a lot of horns beeping. I’m enjoying myself.”

Another organizer, Calcifer Goodleaf, said that though the planning process was at times stressful, they were delighted with how the event came together in the end. Goodleaf also helped organize last year and designed the Kahnawake Pride logo. 

“Acceptance is important, so it’s really nice to see everybody come out and enjoy this event with us,” they said. “What’s better than having this sense of community?”

The event ended at Karonhianónhnha, where guests enjoyed fresh strawberry and raspberry juices from Screaming Chef Cuisine, pizza from John Owen’s Oasis, popcorn from Kahnawake Corn Poppers, chili from Old Haunt Barbeque, grain bowls from Naked Greens and sandwich boxes from Messy Kitchen. The food was made possible through funding from Kahnawake Shakotiia’takehnhas Community Services (KSCS).

Beauvais said they’re already looking forward to growing the event next year.

“I want to continue to add more organizations on, and just see more collaboration and input, especially through organizations that work with people with different accessibility and disability needs,” they said. 

“We just want to include everyone in the Pride Parade and the after event.”

evedcable@gmail.com

This article was originally published in print on June 28 in issue 33.26 of The Eastern Door.

Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.

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Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.