The air was buzzing with excitement on Metrotown’s Jubilee Avenue Saturday afternoon.
A diverse crowd of a few hundred people gathered together, some wearing bright colours and rainbow garb, for Burnaby’s first Pride event. Twenty-some booths lined both sides of Jubilee Avenue representing local businesses, neighbourhood groups, vendors and politicians. Various dancers, musicians and other performers were scheduled to perform throughout the afternoon.
The afternoon kicked off just after noon with speeches. Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, from the stage, said he was glad the Burnaby Neighbourhood House came forward to organize the event.
“When you’re 20 minutes from downtown (Vancouver), people are drawn to the big smoke. They’re drawn to the events that happen in Vancouver,” he said. “But here in Burnaby we hadn’t had an event that was made in Burnaby, something that really signified, here in our own community, that we had a great respect and support for our gay community, and we wanted to ensure that our community understood that we wanted to ensure that we were harmonious and tolerant here in the city of Burnaby."
The first act to take the stage was Pow Wow dancer Shyama-Priya, who encouraged her audience to dance along with her. The drag performance that followed shortly afterward was another hit with the crowd.
Now the crowd is joining in. pic.twitter.com/HoLUVVwdzl— Lauren Boothby (@laurby) August 11, 2018
Jasmine Addison, who is originally from Burnaby, came in a Pegasus costume and painted her eyes with rainbow colours for the event. While she regularly attends Vancouver’s pride events, she says she glad her hometown was also celebrating.
"I think it took too long, really," she told the NOW. “It's amazing that we finally have one here in Burnaby. It is a big step for the queer community,"
She said having events like this in each community is important — rather than one big event in Vancouver — especially for people who might have accessibility issues.
"I have a cane. It is hard to travel that far," she said. "Some people don't quite have all the money to take all public transit it takes to get there."
Sandra Laframboise, a two-spirit person who goes by Butterfly Woman and doesn't use pronouns, said it was important because it was the first.
"We need to support the youth constantly," Butterfly Woman said. "It's like a domino effect now. Every community going 'oh, but we don't have events, we should have one now.' Compared to before when we were being asked to leave.
"It's important that these events come together, that we publicly acknowledge ourselves, that we publicly celebrate together and that we show the politicians that this is who we are, and diversity is important."
Birinder Narang, who currently lives in Vancouver but grew up in Burnaby, said he was glad to see an event like this supporting diversity in his hometown.
"I think it's wonderful for the Burnaby community to have an event that celebrates diversity in all people that are here," he said. "I believe that it would have been enlightening to have it at an earlier time in life, to prepare us when we got out of school, to have the knowledge and understanding of the difficulties that people from different backgrounds have to live through."