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Caledon, Peel Region to honour LGBTQ+ community in July

July 9, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Written By ALYSSA PARKHILL

Pride month, recognized across the world in June, may have come and gone, but here in Peel Region, July is the month for celebrating the LGTBQ+ community. 

For the past 18 years, Peel Pride have been holding their celebration and awareness in the month of July. What once was a single group of community members spreading awareness and information, now has an assortment of neighbours and fellow community groups in surrounding areas. 

“We’ve been doing this since day one,” said Sonya Shorter, Chairperson at The Pride Committee of Peel. “My partner started Peel Pride, she’s still on the committee and I’ve been involved for the past nine years. There’s a lot of other groups that are popping up now, and running events, creating partnerships.” 

Celebrations such as Pride Month have been impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but none the less, changes have been made to adapt. There are many ways for people in Peel to get involved and show support for the LGBTQ+  community. 

“There’s lots going on. People need to make sure they’re checking online for anybody that’s running virtual events,” said Shorter. 

In celebration of Peel Pride, the City of Brampton, raised their Pride flag on June 25 in support of Pride month and the LGTBQ+ community. The Town of Caledon followed five days after, raising the Pride flag on June 30. Local dignitaries and municipal staff gathered alongside Julia Bertola, founder of Caledon Pride, for the ceremony. 

“We really wanted to show the partnership and show that, we stand behind the Town of Caledon,” said Bertola. “They were really supportive, and they even let me raise the flag.” 

Caledon Pride had big plans for the community of Caledon, until the COVID-19 pandemic came along and changed everything. 

“This is our first Pride (celebration),” said Bertola. “It might’ve looked different because right when COVID-19 was happening, we actually just started our social drop-ins at the time. We just partnered with Youth Activist Inc., and we were kind of hoping for this kind of once a month, social drop-in, and if there were more people asking for more, we would have loved to do more. But right when we started, the next week the pandemic hit.”

Although the pandemic has put a dampening on Caledon Pride’s plans, it didn’t stop Bertola from discovering different ways the Caledon community can celebrate Peel Pride Month, while staying safe a home. 

“We’ve moved everything to kind of a virtual format, and our Pride program is very slim. I kept it kind of easy, something that I can do, but something I could still feel was meaningful. We have one campaign and one virtual event,” said Bertola. “The online campaign is called #BringingPrideHome.”

#BringingPrideHome is an opportunity for families, friends, neighbours and all those within the Caledon community, to show how they are celebrating Peel Pride month at home. Residents are encouraged to put up decorations, buy sweets, play games, or find any other way to celebrate. 

Caledon Pride is encouraging all residents to snap a picture of how they are spending their time celebrating while staying home, which the organization hopes to share on their social media channels, such as Instagram and Facebook. Bertola’s own partner shared her celebration by decorating their entire front lawn for the community to see and enjoy. 

“Not only does that show people online that you’re doing that, but if you’re taking a walk down the neighbourhood, it feels so good just to see something like that,” she said. 

In addition to the online campaign, Caledon Pride have partnered with their friends at Rainbow Sauga Alliance in Mississauga in hopes to promote and share different events that are happening in different areas of Peel, that are opens for all communities. 

One of the programs that Caledon Pride is excited for is their ‘Gayme Night’, where they will stream on the online platform Twitch and play different games. Community members can join in on the games, sit back and watch and even request games to play. 

“We start usually at 7 p.m. and we have a bunch of games and people can either tune in and watch us be really bad, or they can request games for us to play or even join themselves,” said Bertola. 

“We’re starting a fundraiser for the whole month of July also, and all proceeds go to LGBT Youth Line,” she said. “Which is a really great service we have here in Ontario. They really work to bring people together, and to really give a service, I think, Caledon could really benefit from, since it’s kind of a disconnect from some resources that kids need.”

The LGBT Youth Line allows young members of communities call in with questions, concerns or needing an outlet to talk without the fear of judgement or unacceptance. 

Next year, Caledon Pride is hoping to host a bigger event, crossing their fingers that the COVID-19 pandemic will be but a distant memory, allowing community members to gather together in celebration of Peel Pride Month. 

The Town of Caledon officially declared the month of July to be Pride Month in Caledon, along with a motion to “bring forward a report outlining the existing and/or recommended framework to support initiatives regarding anti-racism, inclusivity and diversity from a policy and procedure development perspective and include specific strategies, ideas and future budget requirements to make a positive change by the end of October 2020.” 

“Pride Month is an opportunity to prevent discrimination and promote awareness and acceptance to create an inclusive community,” said Mayor Allan Thompson. 

For more information, please visit Caledon Pride on Facebook and Instagram at @CaledonPride. 



         

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