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Working together to 'Unite Us'
Plans finalized for second annual NWT Pride festival

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Friday, May 17, 2013

Although it is still a few months away, plans for Yellowknife's second Pride festival have been finalized, organizers announced earlier this week.

NNSL photo/graphic

NWT Pride director Iman Kassam, left, event co-ordinator Nancy MacNeill, Jean Escalante and Jacq Brasseur gather near Somba K'e Civic Plaza on May 13. - Laura Busch/NNSL photo

This year, the festival will be held from Aug. 9 to 11 - before university students head south in the fall - which organizers hope will improve turnout compared to last year.

"I'm excited the festival will be earlier in the season this year ... because now all my friends who are studying outside of the North get to come and celebrate this part of who I am," said Jacq Brasseur.

Helping organize last year's inaugural Pride festival was Brasseur's first time participating in such an event.

"I think, for me, that was something I was able to give back to my community for supporting me in such a great way," said Brasseur.

The Pride festival is an important event where people of all sexual orientations can get together to celebrate their differences and similarities, said NWT Pride director Iman Kassam.

"Pride festivals happen around the world in cities and communities everywhere to celebrate diversity, to bring people together to celebrate our differences, to celebrate our similarities," she said. "It's just a chance, I guess, for everybody to come out and stand united and just support each other."

That is the theme of this year's festival: Unite Us, said Kassam.

Coming out in Yellowknife was, for the most part, free of discrimination, said Brasseur and fellow organizer Jean Escalante, who both grew up in the city.

"Growing up here I always felt really accepted and I felt loved but I didn't really know anybody who was like me," said Brasseur. "It's one thing for everybody to still support you and love you but it's another thing to actually find a group of people who are similar to you and share a certain part of your identity.

"Growing up here, we didn't really have anything like this to support the youth and coming out and celebrate who they are - and the adults too," said Escalante. "So, having a second festival in a row is really, I think, going to help reinforce that idea and hopefully a lot more people come out this year."

Similar to last year's schedule, the festival will take place over three days. On Friday, Aug. 9, a Rainbows in the Park event is scheduled for Somba K'e Park. Friday night there will be a concert "somewhere downtown," said Kassam, adding the venue and the line-up for the show should be announced within the next few weeks.

On Saturday and Sunday, events will take place at the Folk on the Rocks site, where participants can take part in workshops and other activities.

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