For first time in years, Winnipeg's mayor marches in Pride Parade
Ben Miljure, CTV Winnipeg
Published Sunday, June 14, 2015 4:56PM CST
Last Updated Sunday, June 14, 2015 5:20PM CST
Thousands lined the streets of downtown Winnipeg for the biggest edition of the Pride Parade the city has ever seen, and one participant in particular had people buzzing about a shift in relations between the event and City Hall.
For years, the parade has garnered the support of corporations, unions and even the Winnipeg Police Service; who sent their mascot to march dressed in a pink uniform Sunday.
Politicians of every stripe made appearances this year, including St. Boniface MP Shelley Glover, who pointed out she’s participated in the parade since before she entered politics; and Manitoba Liberal leader Rana Bokhari, who marched with a group of supporters. Winnipeg Centre MP Pat Martin was also on hand.
"We're here to support LGBQT as they hurdle this final frontier in Canadian human rights,” said Martin.
New to the festivities this year: the city’s mayor.
Brian Bowman gave a passionate speech about acceptance before marching side-by-side with people who have never felt that support from the mayor’s office before.
"I hope it helps,” said Bowman. “I hope it sends a signal to our community that everyone has a place here. Everyone belongs."
In the past, Bowman’s predecessor Sam Katz would raise the rainbow flag at City Hall to kick off Pride Festival, but organizers don’t know why he never participated in the parade.
"It's obviously very important that our civic leaders show support for our community,” said Jonathan Niemczak, president of Pride Winnipeg.
"Walking with everybody, it's such a small gesture to do,” said Bowman. “To say a few words is such an easy thing to do; so I'll be here as often as I can, and I'm just thrilled to be here."
Bowman’s appearance didn’t go unnoticed by people who have been taking part in the parade for years.
"I think it's great. It shows a lot of support from the city for the LGBQT community and it's really acknowledging that there's a place for LGBQT people in Winnipeg,” said Mike Tutthill, executive director of the Rainbow Resource Centre.
Pride Winnipeg said it's happy to have an ally at City Hall as the level of acceptance in the city is improving, but more work needs to be done.