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Montreal Pride parade was suddenly canceled. That didn't stop hundreds from marching in the streets

LGBTQNation logo: MainLogo LGBTQNation 8/12/2022 LGBTQNation
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Hundreds of people marched in the streets of Montreal, Canada on Sunday even though the city’s official Pride parade planned for that day was canceled due to a lack of security staff along the route.

Montreal Pride’s organizers announced the parade’s cancellation during the weekend, stating that the parade lacked 80 security staff members needed to help protect marchers. Organizers said they reached their decision after consulting with city police.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Simon Gamache, executive director of Montreal Pride, told the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CBC). He blamed labor shortages across Quebec and beyond, COVID-19 cases, and heatstroke all contributed to the staffing difficulties.

“We hope that we’re able to organize something else in the next few weeks, few months to replace what we unfortunately had to cancel today,” Gamache added. He has since said that the hiring of security staff never occurred and has pledged to conduct an internal investigation, although he acknowledges that as executive director, the responsibility ultimately landed upon him.

At a news conference held Sunday morning, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante expressed shock at the unexpected cancellation.

“My frustration this morning is realizing that it seems there were decisions made, but we were never informed, and that’s disappointing,” she said. “If we had been made aware of the lack of staff or anything else, [we] would have put in the necessary energy.”

The event received $600,000 in funding from the City of Montreal and over $1.1 million from the Quebec government, according to Canada’s National Observer. It’s unclear whether the event’s cancellation will affect the funding of future Pride events.

Numerous people also expressed frustration with the cancellation, including shopkeepers in the city’s Village area that would’ve benefitted from the business of the tens of thousands of marchers expected during the event.

Transgender activist Celeste Trianon told the CBC that they felt especially disappointed since people had flown in from as far away as France just to attend the event.

“We were promised a place for our voices to be heard and now it’s been taken away,” queer activist Salem Billard said. “I feel like it’s a shame, because whether or not it’s a security issue, it could have been announced to us way before that. We’re now living through so much violence, even going to Pride events.… And we want to take back that place as our home and not a corporate festival [event].”

Puelo Deir, a co-founder of Divers/Cité, an LGBT multidisciplinary arts and music festival said, “In my world, you don’t cancel Pride. It would take an act of the universe of real threats to cancel Pride. And to cancel it like you were canceling a night out at a dance party felt outrageous to me.”

Drag performer Gazoline Burlesque said, “The morning of the day of Pride, you can’t cancel. It’s not a party. We need this. We waited for this day all year. So you can’t cancel it. That’s why we’re here. I think it’s bulls***t, you don’t have enough volunteers.”

Despite the cancellation, hundreds of marchers still met at the Place Émilie-Gamelin city square at 1:30 p.m. and marched down Sainte-Catherine Street towards the Olympic Park Esplanade nearly five miles away.

Marchers held signs that read, “You don’t need a cop to walk,” and “This is our Pride: No corporations, no cops.” Other chanted, “Corporate pride must go,” according to the French Canadian news site 24heures.ca.

The Olympic Park Esplanade held its pre-scheduled Pride events, including its closing concert with Brazilian drag pop musician Pabllo Vittar.

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