A photo posted online by NWT Pride shows its banner being carried by supporters during a parade in 2018.
NWT Pride says it plans to wind up operations, handing over the running of Yellowknife’s annual Pride event to a local outreach organization.
The Rainbow Coalition will take over Yellowknife Pride from 2019 onward, a news release issued on Monday stated.
How similar events across the remainder of the territory will be supported is unclear, though NWT Pride’s president said they hoped Rainbow Coalition would gradually expand its reach.
“I think the Territories has a lot of really great communities that are already trying their best to have Pride celebrations and parades and whatnot,” said Storm Larocque, president of NWT Pride, who recently moved from Yellowknife to Hay River.
Larocque said trying to run the organization from Hay River had proved difficult – especially with other board members also leaving Yellowknife and the NWT – adding it makes more sense for a single group to coordinate operations previously covered by NWT Pride, the Rainbow Coalition, and others.
“I think it’d be really cool to see everybody kind-of come together because we have such a small population in the North, but people tend to really come together,” said Larocque.
“I think it will be really interesting to see how that unfolds in the future. I definitely hope that interest is there, and that Rainbow Coalition has that same kind of vision for the future.”
NWT Pride is expected to file for dissolution following its annual meeting on February 25. Community members will then be encouraged to join a planning committee being established by the Rainbow Coalition.
Below, read a full transcript of Cabin Radio’s interview with Storm Larocque.
Listen to this interview on Cabin Radio’s Lunchtime News podcast for Tuesday, February 5 2019.
This interview was recorded on February 4, 2019.
Ollie Williams: What were the factors that played into this decision?
Storm Larocque: Over the past couple years, we’ve seen membership numbers kind-of decline, and I think that’s largely due to NWT Pride being organized by the same people year after year. And so people are getting tired and burnt out and wanting to focus on personal lives and other festivals and stuff – which is great, because I love Yellowknife for that.
This past year, 75 percent of our membership moved out of town right after our event. And my own personal life kind of was up-ended – I’ve had a lot of changes in terms of trying to switch jobs, to have a career change, and all of that. So being president was kind of a daunting task.
Through all of that, Chelsea at Rainbow Coalition and I had been in contact about Rainbow Coalition stepping up to take over. A lot of their members are former NWT Pride members, so they know the ins and outs and definitely want to see NWT Pride succeed in the future, It had started off as just an offer of support and, over the past couple months, we were coming to the realization that me being in Hay River was making it difficult to host any kind of AGM or anything just because it’s sometimes difficult for me to make it to Yellowknife. But I’m really excited to see how this all unfolds and to see what they’re going to do.
It must be reassuring, as well, because I imagine that may have been a point where there was a bit of concern about the future of the event.
Last year, we had decided to do just Hay River as our main NWT Pride event. We wanted to expand outside of Yellowknife and really be true to the name. We had all these ambitions and then, shortly after Hay River, people in Yellowknife were really excited about NWT Pride having an event in Yellowknife – as is tradition. And so we spent that whole July, last minute, scrambling to find funding because, you know, as is public knowledge, we didn’t get the funding from the City that we normally got. Some local businesses, including TD Bank and McLennan Ross, really stepped up, including Twin Pine Diner, they really stepped up and helped with last-minute funding to put on an event.
We got DJ Youngdene and JB the First Lady in as quick as we could at our event, but it kind-of was the last straw for a lot of us in terms of – not last straw, that’s not a good word, but like… we were already kind-of tired. I was really, really scared about, you know, am I going to be able to find people who are interested in stepping up? Because I know a lot of people that have been involved in the past five, six, or seven years are tired. It was amazing when Chelsea reached out with that hand, saying, ‘We’ve got this if you need.’
You mentioned there was a concern before about being true to the name and holding events in places other than Yellowknife. What do you think the future is like for supports for people outside Yellowknife in the future now? What can take the place of NWT Pride for other communities?
I think one of the goals for Rainbow Coalition, just based on the conversations we had, is that’s definitely something that they want to do: expand out of Yellowknife eventually, once they are able to. So I still have that hope and I really intend on still being involved with NWT Pride in whatever ways that I can be.
If I can continue to take on that role, that’s something I will continue to push for in the future, because I think the Territories has a lot of really great communities that are already trying their best to have Pride celebrations and parades and whatnot. I think it’d be really cool to see everybody kind-of come together because we have such a small population in the North, but people tend to really come together.
I think it will be really interesting to see how that unfolds in the future. I definitely hope that interest is there, and that Rainbow Coalition has that same kind of vision for the future.