This weekend, Halifax is hosting the Canadian Pride Curling Championships — for the first time in 10 years.
The city was supposed to host the 2020 tournament, but that fell through once COVID-19 hit and Nova Scotia was placed under strict gathering restrictions.
It was held in Saskatoon last year, and the Halifax hosts couldn’t be more excited for their turn.
Mark Gammon, co-chair of Halifax’s Loose Ends Curling League, said it’s a meaningful event.
“It’s an honour to be the league that hosts the national championships,” Gammon said.
Though it’s a competitive sports tournament, the Canadian Pride Curling Championships are marked by witty team names, camaraderie and acceptance.
“Curling is one of those inclusive sports where there’s a sense of community,” Gammon said.
“The sense of community amongst the gay curlers here is where you really feel it, during these national championships.”
As hosts, he said, the focus is to show the other teams what true Maritime hospitality is.
“We have live entertainment coming in, we’re trying to host a kitchen party tonight, to give that atmosphere of what it is like to be on the East Coast.”
Sixteen teams are competing from across the country, and a winner will be declared on Sunday.
The championship was a product of a decade-old dream that began in Saskatchewan.
Jason Evanochko is the president of the Prairie Lily Curling League — the first and only LGBTQ2 curling league in Saskatchewan that now has two teams.
The Saskatoon native said the sport is “pretty deeply embedded” in society in his home province.
“We were an orphan team 10 years ago actually, in Edmonton, and we got to play for the first time… We did not the greatest, but it was a good experience.”
That’s when the hope was born, “for us to form our own league in Saskatoon,” he said.
A few years later, the team was on the round-robin for the national circuit.
Bringing that to Halifax has been a positive experience, he said.
“Everybody here in Halifax is amazing… the hospitality that everyone has here has been amazing. Everybody is open, welcome, wanting to talk.
“People are just so proud that the nationals is being held here in the city.”
At this weekend’s event, Evanochko will be rooting for his home team from Saskatoon. But, he said it’s all about camaraderie and a welcoming environment.
“I just hope that everyone learns a little bit more about themselves, a little bit more about our community… It’s all just about fun at the end of the day.”
— with files from Vanessa Wright.