Directors Vote to Cancel 2019 Edmonton Pride Festival

CBC, April 10, 2019

Less than two months before the 10-day festival was set to take place, the Edmonton Pride Festival Society Board of Directors voted to cancel the event, according to an email obtained by CBC News.

“In light of the current political and social environment, it has been determined that any attempt to host a festival will not be successful,” reads the email from the board of directors.

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Browatzke said he was disappointed, but not surprised. The board has faced mounting pressure in recent weeks to restructure the festival and the organization to foreground the experience of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour in the LGBTQ community.

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Police called to board meeting last week

The decision comes not long after police were called to a meeting of the board of directors.

The board was meeting on April 4 to discuss a list of demands put forward by two local organizations — Shades of Colour and RaricaNow — that advocate for people of colour and refugees in Edmonton’s LGBTQ community. The demands include a call for the festival to allocate more funding to underrepresented artists and facilitators.

The same groups also helped organize a demonstration at last year’s pride parade calling for the organizers to uninvite Edmonton police, RCMP and military personnel, amid a Canada-wide debate over the presence of police in Pride parades.

The groups have been meeting with the board over the past 10 months and drafted a list of seven demands for the board, said V. Guzman, a co-organizer and facilitator with Shades of Colour.

Four representatives from the two groups were invited to speak at last week’s meeting, according to Clayton Hitchcock, co-chair of the Pride Festival Society. But when roughly 30 supporters showed up, they were stopped at the door and told they had to be a member of the organization to participate in the meeting.

In an interview with CBC News last week, Hitchcock said the group pushed their way into the meeting. He said members of the board felt unsafe and decided to call police.

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