Education, politics and Indigenous culture were among the topics discussed at a special Pride-themed speakers’ event at North Battleford Library, Sunday.
The event concluded a week of celebrations coordinated by the Battlefords Pride Week organizing group of volunteers.
Four guests took to the podium to give their views on what Pride means to them - to offer information, and raise awareness about the need for understanding related to LBGTQ issues, to about 25 people attending the event.
The speakers included Indigenous elder Marjorie Beaucage, Saskatoon-Fairview MLA Vicki Mowat, slam poetry artist Elise Pallagi, and advocate Fran Forsberg contributed to the forum discussion.
Beaucage discussed what it is like to be Indigenous and Two Spirit in Saskatchewan.
“We wanted to identify ourselves differently from LBGTQ because it's based on the Indigenous world view,” she said. "Two is queer and Indigenous and spirit."
Beaucage said the spirit element is the "primary force" for Indigenous people.
When NDP MLA Vicki Mowat gave her presentation, she said people need to remember that Pride is more than just a community event.
She pointed out the she walked in the Pride parade, as well as North Battleford Mayor Ryan Bater and councillor Kent Lindgren on behalf of N.B. council. Mowat said people concerned about the issue should ask other politicians why they were not present in the Battlefords Pride parade also.
Showing up important
“I think pride is inherently political, and that showing up is an important part of the equation,” Mowat said. "I encouraged the folks in the auditorium today to ask questions of their local representation, to ask about why their politicians are at different events, why they are attending the Pride Walk, or why they are not attending."
Mowat said people should also look into the policies that each party is proposing, and find out whether those policies have been implemented.
"It's being willing to show your ally-ship and support. But it's also being willing to show you will walk the walk, in terms of where policy ends up going," she added. "It's worth asking those questions. We should be holding our politicians accountable."
Slam poetry artist Elise Pallagi, who grew up in North Battleford and currently resides in Saskatoon, offered some inspiring words, and also gave a spoken word performance during her presentation.
Fran Forsberg, who also spoke at last year’s speakers’ event, discussed what it means to raise a gender-diverse family. She also increased awareness about various books available for young readers to help them develop a better understanding of what it means to be different.
Kelly Waters, one of the organizers for Battlefords Pride Week, said there will be another full week of activities to celebrate Pride in 2019 since this year went so well.
Waters also appreciated the additional corporate support that helped fund the event, in addition to grants that will be coming in.
She added some of the musical talent at Pride Fest throughout the day Saturday said they were willing to perform for free, but accepted a small offering for their efforts.
“We'll definitely do it again next year and hope to be more organized as a formal committee, building on what's been happening,” Waters said. "I think we successfully did organize a week-long (event). That makes it easier to build on it for next year, to build interest and buzz around it, even bigger and better next year. I think there's a lot of community support."
On Twitter: @battlefordsNOW
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