Bluffs Advocate

LGBTQ

Join UFCW Canada at Pride Festivities in Toronto this June

Pride Toronto expresses hope, optimism, and change in both signs and costumes

By Paul Meinema

            Every year, Pride is celebrated across Toronto as one of the largest and most colourful festivals in the city. Citizens flock to street fairs, marches, parades, picnics, and concerts to participate in a fun and inclusive experience that promotes tolerance and raises awareness of the human rights issues affecting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, and Queer (LGBTQ) community in Toronto.

Messages of hope, optimism, and change are expressed through signs and costumes, and the collective energy of the LGBTQ community and its supporters is palpable. The festival has an enviable international reputation, and now attracts many thousands of visitors from both Canada and the rest of the world.

As Canada's leading and most inclusive union—with over 40,000 members working in the retail food sector and other industries in Toronto—UFCW Canada strongly supports our LGBTQ brothers and sisters through various initiatives in partnership with the Egale Canada Human Rights Trust, the country's only national charity that promotes LGBTQ human rights through research, education, and community engagement.

For example, this past May our union participated in Egale's OUT at Night event in downtown Toronto in an effort to reduce homelessness among LGBTQ youth. As part of the event, UFCW activists slept outside in David Pecaut Square on the night of May 30 to help raise awareness and funds for Egale's LGBTQ anti-homelessness initiative; over 20 per cent of homeless youth in Canada identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer or Two-Spirit.

UFCW Canada is also a member of the Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health, and our union has been actively lobbying for an end to gender identity discrimination and prejudice by calling for legislative protections for LGBTQ citizens and the trans community through Bill C-279, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (Gender Identity).

Accordingly, UFCW Canada's national office and local unions will be playing a proud and prominent role in supporting and celebrating our LGBTQ friends at numerous Pride festivities in Toronto this year, which will be held from June 19 to 28.

We encourage the thousands of UFCW Canada members who live and work in Toronto, as well as our friends and community allies throughout the GTA and beyond, to join us in celebrating Pride this June. Visit ufcw.ca for updates on events that we will be attending.

Eliminating homophobia, bullying, and transphobia is an enormous challenge, but our union is up to the task. In solidarity with our LGBTQ sisters and brothers in Toronto, UFCW Canada members, staff, and community partners will be loud and proud at Pride Toronto to advance equality, diversity, and LGBTQ rights, both at home and abroad.

Author Paul Meinema is the National President, United Food and Commercial Workers Canada

UFCW