Pride Winnipeg is making up for lost time.
Festival previewClick to Expand
Fierté Canada Pride and Pride Winnipeg are hosting a series of in-person events from May 27 to June 5. Visit pridewinnipeg.com or download the Pride Winnipeg app for Android and iOS for a full list of concerts and community events.
Friday, May 27; 12 p.m.
Fierté Canada Pride Human Rights Conference
Wednesday, June 1 to Friday, June 3
Saturday and Sunday, June 4 and 5; noon to 6 p.m.
June 5; 10 a.m.
Manitoba Legislative Building, west lawn
Sunday, June 5; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Muster at the corner of Memorial Boulevard and Portage Avenue
The local organization has invited the whole country to take part in the festivities during its first in-person Pride celebration since the beginning of the pandemic. This year, Winnipeg is the host city for the second ever Fierté Canada Pride, a collective of Canadian Pride associations which awarded the first national title to Montreal in 2017.
"It’s been five years of planning that I’m very happy is finally happening," says Barry Karlenzig, president of Pride Winnipeg. "Our goal is to put on as big a party, as big a festival and as big a parade as Montreal can do, but Winnipeg-style."
The festival kicks off on Friday with a flag raising at city hall and includes a national human rights conference alongside the annual rally, parade and two-day celebration at The Forks. This year’s festival grounds have doubled in size, with three stages, two beer gardens, food trucks, children’s programming, an Indigenous Two-Spirit zone, a new community area featuring local groups that support the LGBTTQ+ community, and an expanded Pride Mart with a hiring fair.
Planning for a national event alongside the uncertainties of the pandemic has been a wild ride.
"Every issue that could happen this year has happened," Karlenzig says, adding that the group has also been planning around everything from flooding to ground squirrels to power issues. "This isn’t our first rodeo, we’ve been doing Pride for 35 years, we know what to do and we’re such an agile group."
The organization is expecting as many as 90,000 attendees throughout the course of the festival, more than double its usual showing. As the first major festival of 2022, Pride Winnipeg has been in constant communication with the city and province to make sure its events are in line with public health regulations. Masks will be encouraged, but not mandated during the outdoor festival and organizers have purchased hundreds of litres of hand sanitizer.
The programming will have a national flair with performers from every program, while food vendors have been encouraged to show off locally inspired fare (you can bet honey dill sauce will be on the menu).
The Pride Parade on June 5 will have 118 floats, which Karlenzig says represents an increase in new sponsors and supporters.
"Due to the global pandemic and staff shortages and volunteer shortages, we’ve seen about 40 per cent of our regular parade entries not enter this year," he says, adding that usual sponsorship has seen a similar dip. "We’ve seen some new partners who have joined us and… we’ve seen some major players come to the table for the first time."
The Fierté Canada Pride Human Rights Conference — a stipulation for national hosts — will take place from June 1 to 3 at the Radisson Hotel on Portage Avenue. The conference includes workshops on themes of queer history, intersectionality, global partnerships and wellness.
Architect of gay rights movement prefers humbler title
Posted: 7:00 PM May. 24, 2022
Phil Graham is a founder of Manitoba’s gay rights movement. Growing up in a small rural community, however, he didn’t know what the term gay meant until he learned about it in church.
“I didn’t even know that men could have sex with men until I read it in… Leviticus,” Graham says, referring to the Old Testament book that includes passages prohibiting homosexuality. “It used to be quoted to us all the time saying gay was wrong, there was nothing positive.”
"I look at it as the serious side of Pride," says conference chair Barb Burkowski. "The festival and parade and everything are a lot of fun, as they should be… the conference provides a venue within Pride to encourage exploration of human rights and how they directly and indirectly affect the members of our community."
Pride is happening this year amid a flurry of homophobic and transphobic legislation in the United States. What’s happening down south, says Burkowski, is a disheartening example of why discussions about human rights need to continue.
"Have we gotten anywhere or are we just reverting?" she says. "We can marry, we can have kids, we can do all sorts of things that not long ago we couldn’t do.
"But there’s also a lot of anger and hurt and ignorance that’s still around us and we just have to keep slugging away to make people see us as human beings."
Keynote speakers for the conference include Svend Robinson, Canada’s first openly gay member of Parliament, and Kael McKenzie, the country’s first openly transgender judge appointed to the provincial court of Manitoba.
After two years of postponed celebrations, Burkowski and Karlenzig are looking forward to being surrounded by people during this year’s event.
"To come out and celebrate and be able to show our true colours and be our true selves, Pride does so much for this community," Karlenzig says. "To not be able to do it for two years has really put a strain, mentally and physically, on a lot of our communities."
Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.