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Victoria Pride Parade draws thousands, including non-uniformed police for first time

Revellers march through downtown Victoria for the annual Victoria Pride Parade on Sunday, July 7, 2019.
Revellers march through downtown Victoria for the annual Victoria Pride Parade on Sunday, July 7, 2019. Richard Blais

Thousands of marchers and revellers decked in rainbows, feathers and sequins descended on downtown Victoria Sunday for the annual Victoria Pride Parade.

The parade, which made its way down Pandora and Government streets to MacDonald Park in James Bay, marked the end of the capital’s Pride Week, with dozens of floats and groups marching to support the LGBTQ2 community.

Despite the unseasonably dark clouds overhead, organizers were thrilled with the turnout and the atmosphere brought to the event.

WATCH: (Aired June 23) How LGBTQ2 communities across the globe are celebrating Pride

How LGBTQ2 communities across the globe are celebrating Pride
How LGBTQ2 communities across the globe are celebrating Pride
“We’ve made so much progress [as a community], and I think with 25 years of the festival and 50 years of [the Stonewall Riots], it’s a good time to reflect on that progress but know there’s more to work towards,” Scott Daly with the Victoria Pride Society said.

The most notable change to Sunday’s event was the lack of uniformed police officers, who instead took to the streets wearing T-shirts that read, “Love Proudly, Live Proudly, Police Proudly.”

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READ MORE: Pride divided -- Leadership under pressure as LGBTQ2 community looks to future

The decision to keep police uniforms out of the parade for the first time was made last week after extensive discussions between the LGBTQ2 community, the Pride society, Victoria police and the Greater Victoria Police Diversity Advisory Committee.

“We wanted to make Pride more accessible, especially to marginalized people,” Daly said.

WATCH: (Aired Dec. 1, 2018) Vancouver police won’t wear uniforms in next year’s Pride Parade

Vancouver police won’t wear uniforms in next year’s Pride Parade
Vancouver police won’t wear uniforms in next year’s Pride Parade

“Marginalized people, especially people of colour and trans people, they’re really the ones that led Pride from the beginning, so it’s important we’re inclusive for them.”

The change didn’t appear to dampen the spirits of Chief Del Manak and others who took part, which Daly was happy to see.

“I think it shows they want to work with the community,” he said.

READ MORE: Vancouver police can march in the Pride parade, but not in uniform, society says

Victoria is the latest community to include only non-uniformed police members in their Pride parade. Vancouver banned uniforms starting with the 2018 parade.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps led other members of city council down the parade route, while community groups from Greater Victoria, including Saanich and Oak Bay, also took part.

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Daly said Pride events like the parade and festival are still very much needed as the community continues to fight oppression and stigmas.

“There’s still a lot of issues people are dealing with like homelessness and violence, so to make ourselves visible is very important,” he said.

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