GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, N.L. – Grand Falls-Windsor has pride.
“For us as a community, we always want to make sure we’re inclusive,” said Grand Falls-Windsor Mayor Barry Manuel. “And that means for all citizens, and all visitors to our town.”
Over 100 people gathered in front of town hall on June 22 for a Pride flag raising and a march around downtown. The weekend’s events, which include a community Pride day at Church Road Park, were organized by the Grand Falls-Windsor Pride committee.
“This is just a good show of support from our town to this committee and all the people in our town who are taking part in this walk today,” Manuel said.
Manuel added the town has been doing a flag-raising for the past couple of years, but thanks to Grand Falls-Windsor Pride it has been taken to another level.
“I’m pleasantly surprised to see how many more people are here than have been here in previous years,” Manuel said as he marched. “To see the first time that we’re having this parade, and to see such an uptake, how else better would you want to start?”
Jackie Thompson, a member of Status of Women Central and organizer with Grand Falls-Windsor Pride, said it was very important to stand together as a town.
“We believe in everybody being equal and included,” she said. “We want to empower everybody and make them feel equal and welcome.”
Thompson called the organization of the events a community effort, as multiple groups and organizations were on board with the effort, with members of the public sometimes showing up to planning meetings.
Ben Jeans, Grade 9 student at Exploits Valley Intermediate and a member of the school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA), said when he was younger people judged him a lot for who he was on the inside.
“Thankfully for me, I had accepting parents,” he said. “So, I was able to protect myself from going to self harm or substance abuse.”
Ben said it was hard when the community was negative at times, and he can relate to other people in his position.
“To see this today was really surprising, and I won’t say that in a negative way,” he said. “Because I wouldn’t expect anything less, since the rapid change in society’s view on LGBTQ and Pride, the civil rights movement.”
Ben said the day’s events were uplifting.
“It brings the spirit and shows you what humanity is,” he said.