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Calgary Pride says LGBTQ refugees to lead the Pride parade in September

People take part in a recent Calgary Pride parade. Calgary Pride says this year's parade marshals will be LGBTQ refugees who now call the city home. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lauren Krugel

Calgary Pride says this year’s parade marshals will be LGBTQ refugees who now call the city home.

The organization says it is working with the End of the Rainbow Foundation, which helps LGBTQ refugees, and the Centre for Newcomers, a settlement agency, to focus on immigration at the Pride parade.

It says it is important to celebrate those who have left everything behind to settle in Canada.

“They approached us last month with this idea and we thought it was such a brilliant idea to bring intersectionality as the focus of this year’s parade,” Calgary Pride’s Brit Nickerson told Global News on Wednesday.

“In addition to the war, 2SLGBTQ+ in about 70 countries are facing prosecution just for their gender and sexual identify, so coming to Turtle Island — to Canada, is a huge change for them.”

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Calgary Pride says the inclusion of refugee grand marshals from the LGBTQ community will draw attention to the ongoing fight for human rights both at home and around the world.

The grand marshals will lead the march and celebration during the Pride parade, which is to be held on Sept. 4.

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Earlier in the week, the Alberta NDP caucus confirmed the party would be marching in the September event, following approval from Calgary Pride.

On Wednesday, Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley said they were “incredibly honoured and excited” to take part again this year.

“We have a long record of trying to do everything we can to support the LGBTQ2S+ community in a variety of ways, up to and including the work that we did in government in terms of establishing GSAs across our education system and protecting the young people who are participating in them,” Notley said at an unrelated press conference.

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The UCP, however, will not be in attendance. In a statement to Global News on Wednesday, Tim Gerwing, director of communications with the United Conservative Caucus, said the party did apply to be a part of the parade and festival, but were “excluded.”

“Alberta’s United Conservative Caucus applied to participate in the 2022 Calgary Pride parade and festival, to support and stand in solidarity with members of Alberta’s 2SLGBTQ+ community,” Gerwing said.

“United Conservatives are grateful to have a diverse organization, with members of Alberta’s 2SLGBTQ+ making meaningful contributions to our party, caucus, government and movement.

“We’re disappointed that Calgary Pride organizers have chosen to exclude Alberta’s largest political party, and the countless Albertans who identify as members and supporters of it, from an event that highlights representation, inclusion and diversity.”

Lori Williams, a political scientist at Mount Royal University, said the process of parade permissions has gotten more political over the years.

“There are some political parties or political positions, ideologically, that are very much at odds,” noted  Williams. “There have also of course been issues with policing and the discriminatory policing of certain groups, including those in the LGBTQ community.”

–with files from Adam Toy, Global News

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