The Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) is endeavouring to become more inclusive by boosting its efforts to understand and address the needs of Indigenous, black, and people of colour community members.
The VPS announced two main initiatives in a news release issued today (February 26) that are part of an ongoing consultation process that began in 2016.
The consultation process was launched to address concerns that had been raised about police participation and racism that pre-dated the discussions prompted Black Lives Matter Vancouver raising concerns about police presence in the Vancouver Pride parade in July 2016.
In a statement on their website, the VPS explains that they are “aware that Pride events around the world, including here in Vancouver, have often done a poor job at welcoming all members of our communities” and that “the board and staff are committed to creating changes at VPS to turn that around.”
As part of this commitment, Serene Carter, who identifies as a queer, Indian-Fijian, mixed-race femme, has been appointed as the new community partnerships coordinator. This new permanent staff position is an expansion of a former seasonl community partnerships role, which will be dedicated to collaborations with black, Indigenous, and people of colour communities.
VPS communications coordinator Kaschelle Thiessen explained to the Georgia Straight that previously, the community partnerships coordinator focused on helping community partners, including reducing barriers to events and supporting events by other organizations.
Thiessen also stated that as Vancouver Pride has never previously held any events focused upon black, Indigenous, or people of colour community members, and some community feedback asked for more resources devoted to QTBIPOC communities, the community partnerships coordinator role was allocated to that to build upon previous collaborations.
In addition, the VPS will hold a community consultation for queer, trans, black, Indigenous, and people of colour (QTBIPOC) individuals to collect feedback that will help in the development and creation of new and accessible spaces during Pride.
The consultation will consists of an anonymous online survey, group community consultation sessions, individual phone or in-person meetings, and consultations with community groups. Full details about how to participate in the consultations can be found at the VPS website. Anyone interested should respond by April 20.
As a result of recommendations from previous consultations, the VPS began making changes in 2017 by increasing accessibility services and started a bursary program for small, marginalized, or vulnerable groups.
The Georgia Straight has contacted the VPS for further information.