Sudbury Pride cancels annual Pride March in response to criticism of police involvement

Fierté Sudbury Pride (FPS) has cancelled its annual ‘Pride March’ – a staple of the organization’s Pride Week in July – following statements made by Black Lives Matter (BLM) Sudbury.

“After careful consideration and in solidarity with our friends at Black Lives Matter,” said Sudbury Pride in a statement posted to Facebook early Saturday morning.

“We have made the decision to cancel the Pride March.”

On June 30, the local BLM organization issued a statement calling for FSP to “decenter police within their programming and to acknowledge their harmful actions” referencing historical events where police have targeted ‘queer spaces’ or criminalized 2SLGBTQ+ people.

“We were incredibly disappointed when informed that Fierté Sudbury Pride had been in close contact with Greater Sudbury Police Services and that police will be involved with the march,” BLM – Sudbury said in their statement.

“Let us not forget that without the longstanding community organizing work largely done by Black and Brown 2SLGBTQ+ activists we would not be where we are today.”

FSP agreed and acknowledged BLM – Sudbury’s statement and agreed that “pride is a protest.”

Protest is “fundamental to the 2SLGBTQ+ community and … organizations have the responsibility to continue anti-oppression and anti-racism work and to work to dismantle systems that cause harm,” FSP’s statement read in part.

“We sincerely apologize to the community for failing to plan our Pride March with these values in mind,” said the organization.

FSP said they worked within the system and aligned themselves with city bylaws to keep board members safe from legal or financial repercussions – however in doing so, they forgot that for the march to be a success everyone must feel safe.

“By involving police in our March, we did not create safety for those who continue to be harmed by policing in our community,” added FSP.

“We are deeply sorry for this misstep.”

The organization’s Pride in the Park event which was also scheduled on July 15 will go ahead as planned at Memorial Park.

“We understand that members of our community will be disappointed that we are unable to host a Pride March this year,” said FPS.

“We hope you will be encouraged by a vibrant calendar of events this week, including Pride in the Park which will be a full day to gather loudly, (and) proudly.”

The statement indicates that board members met with the city mayor to request that the march be led by volunteer marshals – but this was not an option under current city bylaws and restrictions under the Highway Traffic Act.

“There may be an opportunity to work third-party private company to provide traffic control, this option is highly cost-prohibitive for a small organization like ours,” said FPS.

“We are exploring these options for future pride marches, and in the meantime, ask that members of our community who are able to email or phone their city counselors.”

CTV News reached out to FPS for further comment – but were advised they were not available until Monday.

A full schedule of Pride Week events were announced in June, the listing is available on the Fierté Sudbury Pride’s website.

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