Alberni Pride invites the community to a barbecue at Williamson Park on Johnston Road on Saturday, July 23 to celebrate all things Pride.
Pride is an annual LGBTQ+ Pride event, held each year in cities around the world to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their allies.
The Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival on Sunday, July 31 is the largest parade of any kind in Western Canada.
“Pride is a community,” said Jord Simister, a core organizer for the Port Alberni Pride BBQ. “I’m happy to be able to bring that sense of community to Port and show that there is a support for people that need it here, and there are places to go, and that it’s fun to be able to express yourself and show who you really are.”
Last year’s Pride BBQ, spearheaded by Simister’s older brother Colin, was the first Pride event held in the Valley since the Pride Ride, a train ride to McLean Mill, that discontinued several years ago.
Inspired by his brother’s organization of a successful Pride event that saw close to 800 attendees, Simister wanted to continue bringing pride to Port Alberni.
“Last year was awesome and everybody felt that Pride had come to Port Alberni so I just wanted to bring that back,” he said.
Through Wilde Youth, an organization that provides a safe space for LGBTQ, Simister and other members came together and began planning the 2016 Pride BBQ.
“We started planning in about May and it’s been a lot,” Simister said. “We’ve all been busy. I don’t think we’ve had any spare time lately.”
The group has done a variety of fundraising initiatives as well as reaching out to businesses and organizations in the community, who Simister said have been very supportive, in order to make the BBQ a success.
“It’s very family friendly. There’s a kids’ zone, lots of music, obstacle courses, food, vendors and story telling,” Simister said.
The Marim Bam Buzz band, Lauren Spencer-Smith and Paige Maher, Torrence and Garry Hodi and Dani Maclane will all be providing musical entertainment.
Informational booths providing LGBTQ resources will be set up around the park including British Columbia Nurses Union, Trans BC, Alberni Valley United Church and other health outreach organizations.
In addition to bringing Pride to the community, Simister wants to raise awareness for the need of more LGBTQ resources in the Alberni Valley, especially through School District 70.
“There’s a couple resources in the school but there’s not very much,” Simister said.
Shelley Shenton is also on the planning committee with Alberni Pride and said the Pride BBQ is a celebration of solidarity, awareness and inclusion.
“Bring friends and family because we’re all friends, family and neighbours,” Shenton said.
Visit www.albernipride.org for more information.