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Group celebrating 10 years of Pride

A variety of events are planned for the local Pride Week
The parade at the 2022 Timmins Pride celebration.

As June begins, the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Timmins is ready to celebrate.

Preparations for multiple events are well underway, and he’s looking forward to bringing the community together, said Fierté Timmins Pride president Matthieu Villeneuve.

“It’s a very exciting time,” he said. “Come join us at Pride!”

With Fierté Timmins Pride marking its 10th anniversary, Villeneuve said there is an opportunity to educate and support each other.

“It’s very important that we take the space, and have a wall of love around us,” he said. “That’s our motion this year, to not feed into the madness.”

Pride Week events run from June 3 and wrap up June 10 with a parade and rally in Hollinger Park.

Last year’s June celebrations were cancelled due to a lack of volunteers and the events were moved to September.

“This is the official, back to normal, event,” said Villeneuve. “No matter what happens with the haters, we’re still going to go through with it!”

While security has become a concern due to rising anti-2SLGBTQIA sentiments, Villeneuve said they are prepared.

“I’m sure you’ve seen all the comments on Facebook, it’s a little intense,” he said. “We’ve decided we’re going ahead regardless, and we have safety measures in place in case something should happen, but we’re powering our way through.”

He said that volunteers are always welcome, but it can sometimes require a thick skin.

“I myself, I’m a big, white guy, apparently I’m very passable, and I’m aware that I can go into spaces and not have that worry,” he said. “In previous years, we’ve had one or two protesters, they’d have their spot on the side with their signs, and we just kind of moved on.”

He said this year feels a little different.

“We’ve known that people have been threatened, and the most god-awful things are being said to the strong people in our community, and we’ve never really had that happen before,” he explained. “This year, it’s a very different tune, and my big white guy privilege, I’ll be at the head of the line.”

Events will include a flag raising and proclamation at city hall on Monday, a parade on Saturday.

There are also two drag shows, one of which is an inclusive event on Friday, June 9 at the Timmins Museum: NEC.

“It is a drug-free, alcohol-free environment, accessible to anyone who can’t handle the stairs, and it also gives an opportunity to students that are in the local GSAs to attend a drag show and see what that looks like,” said Villeneuve.

Timmins Pride has made it their goal to work with communities with Timmins and increase their visibility.

“We need people to say I’m willing to try at least supporting what I can and try to make Timmins a little more friendly and supportive,” said Villeneuve. 

He said that while Pride events can be very high profile, the community is a quiet group overall. 

“We’re a community that stays at home for the most part, we blend in very well with everybody else, there is no gay area of time, there’s no gay coffee shop, there’s not even a monthly get-together,” said Villeneuve. ”This is the one time of year for us to be a little more visible and have an idea of a safer place.”

The pandemic slowed a lot of the community-building work the organization had planned.

“We’re going to be trying again to do some kind of monthly or bi-monthly get-together of some sort to try and get people out of their houses,” he said. “We need to have some of that visibility and some of that support structure in your own community.”

The group is focusing on giving back to the community at large as well, taking part in more events and building relationships.

“We do our best to get other members of the community to join us, but it can be difficult to build those bridges,” he said. “We don’t want to token-ize anyone, so we want to be sure we’re going about this properly.”

Anyone looking to get involved can contact Timmins Pride through their Facebook group or website.

Amanda Rabski-McColl, LJI Reporter

About the Author: Amanda Rabski-McColl, LJI Reporter

Amanda Rabski-McColl is a Diversity Reporter under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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