Picnic, pride and Svend on the side

Gay and lesbian community holds annual celebration


Iqaluit Pride and Friends of Pride is hosting its third annual pride picnic this Sunday at Sylvia Grinnell Park beginning at 2 p.m.

“It’s a celebration for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and its supporters. People’s involvement in it does indicate support for us,” said Allison Brewer, spokesperson for the Iqaluit group.

For the first time, the group is also presenting a special guest, Svend Robinson, human rights activist and openly gay member of parliament.

Robinson and Brewer are old friends. Last year, a week after Iqaluit’s annual pride picnic, she was in Moncton, New Brunswick, for that city’s pride celebration where Robinson was also taking in the festivities.

“I told him about our event here and he said he’d love to come up. Invite me next year and I’ll see if I’m available,” Brewer said.

The first picnic attracted about a dozen people, a number that more than tripled the second year with close to 50 people taking part.

Although Brewer isn’t sure what to expect this year, as public discussion on the issue of same-sex relationships, and especially marriage, has heightened people’s awareness.

“There seems to be a tremendous amount of interest and support. The unions have been really supportive. They’ve thrown both moral and financial support behind the endeavor,” Brewer said.

The Iqaluit group has lobbied the Nunavut government to include gender identity as a prohibited grounds for discrimination in the draft human rights bill introduced in the legislature late last year.

“There are certainly detractors, and there always will be, but the show of support has been quite overwhelming, including the show of local support, not just people around the country.”

On the whole, Brewer’s impression is that Nunavummiut are pretty laid back about the issue, although she also acknowledges that some are pretty wound-up about it.

Brewer singled out a recent letter to the editor in Nunatsiaq News in which a woman from Pangnirtung expressed her desire for a more accepting human race.

“That’s really much more typical of the attitude of people than the negatives that you hear,” she said.

“I don’t feel a negative attitude is at all typical of the way Nunavummiut feel about the issue.”

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