In recognition of Kitimat’s LGBTQ community, the Tamitik Status of Women Association (TSW) hosted a pride event on June 25.
The event was coordinated by TSW’s director of community services, Sim Grewal, who brought together families and friends of all ages, with food, refreshments, photo booths, a DIY face masks station, a temporary tattoo station, a colouring book station, and other child-friendly activities.
The event also hosted vendors from Kitimat children’s peace workers and Federal MP, Taylor Bachrach.
“Celebrating pride in northern BC is a new thing. […] It’s really important because it’s showing people in the community that everyone belongs, and to celebrate diversity makes our community stronger,” Bachrach said talking about the importance of celebrating LGBTQ pride in small communities.
Bachrach said that he’s previously engaged with LGBTQ communities that grew up in the 1980s/1990s who say that the northwestern communities weren’t the most welcoming to them.
However, in terms of identity and acceptance, Bachrach believes that the northwest is becoming more progressive.
“We have more and more people moving to the northwest from other parts of BC and Canada and they’re looking for communities that are more open, accepting, and celebrate diversity. So it’s really cool to see events like this that send that message,” Bachrach said.
Michelle Martins, Director of Tamitik Status of Women also emphasized the importance of pride events in rural northern communities.
“Our LGBTQ community [in Kitimat] is particularly hidden and certainly for me, as someone who grew up in Kitimat, younger people who were part of that community left right after high school; as soon as they could they went to larger centres. I think that shows how people of [the LGBTQ community] feel to be here. Obviously, they don’t feel as safe, or as seen, or as considered,” Martins said.
“I do think more people outside of the LGBTQ community are becoming allies and becoming more vocal about allyship, which I think is a positive change in Kitimat. You didn’t see that when I grew up here; not many people were open about their identity, nor did you see a lot of support from people outside of that community,” Martins said.
“We’re endeavouring for this community to be a safer place for [LGBTQ members]. I don’t think it’s there yet, but I do feel like we’re making baby steps towards that happening,” Martins said.
Though no pride event took place in 2020 because of Covid-19 restrictions, Kitimat Gender and Sexuality Alliance hosted Kitimat’s first pride event back in 2019 and brought the community together by putting on a potluck.