With more than half of the Northwest Territories under evacuation orders, many events in Western Canada have opened their doors for evacuees to unwind after a stressful week.
That includes Edmonton Pride Festival, which is working with the Yellowknife Pride committee to include performers displaced from the territory in its events.
“We shared it on our social media and a lot of people were really excited about it. I know personally, my heart was warmed by the gesture,” said Michael Bokor, sponsorship coordinator at Yellowknife Pride.
Edmonton Pride began on August 18 and runs until August 26. It includes performances from multiple 2SLGBTQIPA+ entertainers.
Bokor said he reached out to Edmonton Pride to ask if there were tickets for NWT wildfire evacuees when he realized all of their events are free.
“They said there are some spaces for performers and we would love if NWT performers could contribute to Edmonton pride,” Bokor said, offering they offered to pay performers.
Bokor said he believes the response from the community in the province has been so positive because of the 2016 wildfire in Fort McMurry, which forced more than 88,000 residents to flee their homes.
“Obviously, it’s pretty traumatic being evacuated. But I think a lot of people in Edmonton, Alberta, can really connect with evacuations and wildfires because of the Fort McMurray disaster,” he said.
Bokor said participating in Edmonton Pride could be an opportunity for NWT performers to reach a different, much bigger audience – something which is hard to achieve even in Yellowknife.
“In a way, it’s not very often that NWT residents get to do performances. Also there is not a venue for people in NWT to do drag on a regular basis, or queer-themed performances because it’s just not available,” he said.
Despite the wildfires and evacuations, Bokor said nothing can stop pride.
“Even though we’re evacuated, having a community in Edmonton Pride festival … Just reinforces my idea that people are generally good, and they care about each other. And this is just another opportunity to show that,” he added.
If you are an evacuee and want to get involved with Edmonton Pride, you can reach out to Michael Bokor at email@example.com.