Prior to the City of Vancouver's official Pride Week proclamation at the new Jim Deva Plaza in the West End today (July 25), Vancouver Pride Society president Alan Jernigan told the Georgia Straight that while they have not met with Black Lives Matter yet, they are planning to meet with them as soon as possible.
Jernigan said that they did meet with the Vancouver Police Department last week. He said the VPD will participate in the parade, which takes place in the West End on Sunday (July 31), but the VPS requested that the police do not include an armoured rescue vehicle.
The inclusion of an armoured vehicle in the parade was one of the concerns listed in BLM-Vancouver's open letter, dated July 15, to the VPS and VPD. They had requested that the VPD withdraw from the parade, and participate instead in a public-service float that would include firefighters, paramedics, and others.
"Relationship building is something that takes time," Jernigan said. "We absolutely want to make sure that people feel welcome to attend our events and feel that they are safe in that space and we know that dialogue takes time and effort. We're excited to get started on that process."
Mayor Gregor Robertson, in his speech at the official Pride Week proclamation ceremony, spoke about having met with BLM-Vancouver.
"I've met with people from Black Lives Matter in recent days. I've also been in touch with Vancouver Pride Society," he said. "Everybody's talking, which is wonderful. We all share common goals of working together towards inclusivity and safety, and providing space for marginalized and racialized queer communities in Vancouver."
However, the queer Muslim group Salaam Vancouver and the South Asian LGBT group Trikone Vancouver announced on July 24 that they will not participate in the Vancouver Pride parade. Instead, they will walk in the Two Spirit Queers, Trans, Intersexed, and Bisexual People of Colour Pride March on August 1.
They stated that they're doing so in solidarity with BLM-Vancouver.
They pointed out that queer Muslims and Latinx queers were not invited to speak with city council on how to respond to the massacre in Orlando, and that the Vancouver Pride Society did not follow up on their suggestion to have an inclusive healing ceremony at Pride.
Jernigan said he supports their decision to participate in other marches.
"As with other marches in the city, we support that 100 percent," he said. "There are a lot of ways to celebrate Pride in the city of Vancouver. It's one of the things that makes it fantastic. I wish that event to be very successful."
Meanwhile in other parade matters, Jernigan said he's excited about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participating in this year's event.
"There are a lot of places around the world where the head of government wouldn't march in a parade like this and not only that would actively work against our community, and I think it feels fantastic to be in a country where we have that kind of support for government."