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Fifth NWT Pride geared towards youth
Most of festival moves downtown with workshops and education talks

Robin Grant
Northern News Services
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The fifth year of the NWT Pride was the best attended because of the decision to move the daytime festivities to Somba K'e Civic Plaza according to Teal MacIntosh, arts co-ordinator for the event.

NNSL photo/graphic

Ben Linaker, MC, with Keelen Simpson on his shoulders, helps ensure the festival runs smoothly. - Robin Grant/NNSL photo

"It ran really smoothly thanks to our 60-plus volunteers and our board and committee," she said.

"We've heard nothing but good things. And we've gotten really good feedback from the community."

This year, the all-ages events were held in Somba' Ke Civic Plaza on Friday and Saturday in an effort to make the festival accessible to the community and young people, as well as provide greater visibility for Yellowknife's LGBTQ community.

Last year, NWT Pride organizers planned more alcohol-free events so that the festival was more welcoming to teenagers. This year, most of the events, except the musical performances at the NWT Pride Gardens, were alcohol-free.

Pride festival kicked off Friday at noon with cake at the post office. Later in the afternoon, the fun moved to Somba K'e Civic Plaza with Yellowknife hip-hop artist Aaron "Godson" Hernandez and electro-rock musician The Bushman.

On Saturday afternoon the fun stayed downtown with Toronto-based stand-up comedian Michaela Washburn leading a workshop on coming out stories and spoken word poetry. Indo-Tanzanian-Canadian musician Alysha Brilla discussed queer folks in positions of power. Pride moved to the Folk on the Rocks site Saturday at 7 p.m., where Alysha Brilla took to the stage with a musical performance along with Hawksley Workman, MC Crook the Kid and Deafstar, among other acts. The festival also featured family games, activities for young people and a community barbecue.

A workshop on queer families and parenting discussed the opportunities and obstacles of parenting in the NWT. Tiffany Ayalik, host of Queerlesque at The Raven Pub and part of Quantum Tangle, one of the acts that performed in Somba K'e Civic Plaza Saturday afternoon, said NWT Pride is an opportunity to celebrate love and teach young people about acceptance and consent.

"It was so amazing and so respectful, and so well organized. And seeing visual reminders about consent and respect, and what consent means and entails, is pretty touching and heartwarming that we can celebrate love and also be super respectful," she said.

"It's an all-families thing too, so it's a great time to teach your kids when they're young how consent works."

She added that NWT Pride is an opportunity for anybody to support the LGBTQ+ community.

"It just means that we all get to rally together, whether you're an ally, or whether you're part of that community, because we are a Yellowknife community, and there are people who identify as all different sorts of things. And if you're not actively an ally, then what are you doing?" she said.

Amelia Debogorski, a festival volunteer, said it was a great all-ages event.

"It brought the community together. It even had events at city hall that I took my daughter to," she said. "I get a sense of togetherness and openness in the community. Like a safe place for people to just come together and celebrate being a community. It was nice because everyone had a chance to join in and go."

On Saturday evening, the musical performances took over at the Folk on the Rocks site.

"At one point, everybody in the beer gardens was dancing," said MacIntosh.

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