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Celebrating Pride Month

  • 4 min read

Celebrating Pride Month

Happy Pride, everyone! June is a month to celebrate the immense movements made by queer activists and allies toward the freedoms queer people in Canada have today.

Pride Month commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City, a pivotal event in the fight for 2SLGBTQIA+ rights. This month-long celebration honours the courage of individuals like Stormé DeLarverie, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, who fought back against police raids at queer spaces like the Stonewall Inn and helped to usher in a global movement toward equality and acceptance. 

The first Pride marches were held a year later, in June 1970, to mark the anniversary of the riots. The joy and perseverance of the queer community has evolved this commemoration into the vibrant celebrations we see today, but Pride isn’t just a celebration. It’s also a protest, and a chance to make queer voices heard.

So much of the progress we see today is owed to the hard work and dedication of countless activists and organizations that have fought tirelessly for equal rights and visibility. Throughout Pride Month, Water First is proud to honour the trailblazers of the past and acknowledge the ongoing efforts of contemporary activists, community leaders, and allies who continue to advocate for inclusivity and justice, a goal that is far from being met, as hate crimes in Canada related to sexual orientation rise and symbols of Pride are censored from the public eye. 

We recognize the invaluable work of groups such as Rainbow Refugee, who promote safe, equitable migration and communities of belonging for people fleeing persecution based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or HIV status. Their mission is more potent than ever as strict governance around the world denies basic human rights to queer citizens. 

Another organization doing incredible work is Outwords, who are dedicated to preserving and sharing the stories of 2SLGBTQIA+ elders to build community and catalyze social change. Anyone interested can find archives of stories on their website, including those from queer Indigenous elders.

If you’re seeking local organizations, Egale (a queer-centred nonprofit based out of Toronto) also shares an incredible map on their site, which acts as a database for 2SLGBTQIA+ organizations across the country. These organizations play a crucial role in creating safe and supportive spaces, advocating for policy changes, and providing essential resources. We encourage you to use Egale’s map to get out and support groups near you.

Two-Spirit Indigenous Pride Flag

At Water First, we believe in the power of inclusivity and the importance of supporting diverse communities. Our mission to address water challenges in Indigenous communities across Canada intersects with our commitment to equity and justice for all, including the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. 

Over the past few years, we have embarked on an on-going learning journey to strengthen our collective awareness of Indigenous history and culture, and work towards a deeper understanding of inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility to support our team, partners and programming. When people feel safe and seen within, that also supports our work with community partners, allowing queer interns, learners, operators, and other community members we work with to feel that same support. 

This past year, our team participated in a workshop hosted by the 519, a unique organization that offers programs to serve the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Toronto and beyond. Recently we were also lucky to partake in a Sharing Circle hosted by Lane Bonertz, a member of the Two-Spirit team at the Community Based Research Centre (CBRC), contributing to sexual health-related programming and research that centres Indigenous identities, cultures and realities. 

As we celebrate Pride Month, let us continue to learn, support, and stand in solidarity with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Together, we can foster a more inclusive and just society for all.

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