Greater Napanee celebrates third annual Pride in the Park

Participants kick off the third annual Greater Napanee Pride March from Conservation Park on June 1. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

Adam Prudhomme

Emerging from underneath a rainbow balloon archway onto the river boardwalk in Conservation Park, hundreds of participants set out on the third annual Greater Napanee Pride March.

The stroll through town kicked off a busy day of events in the park and at the SPC on June 1, complete with drag performances, readings, singing, pony rides, vendors and a foam party.

More than just a party, the event was a statement on acceptance.

“As we gather here today let us remember that Pride is not just a celebration, but a symbol of resilience, unity and the unwavering spirit to fight for equality,” said Chris Beauchesne, co-chair of Greater Napanee Pride. “It is a reminder that love is love and together we can create a world where everyone can feel accepted and celebrated for who they are.”

Hastings Lennox and Addington MPP Ric Bresee was among the guests invited to speak.

“I was thinking back to my childhood in the ‘70s and ‘80s when we talked a lot in this country about cultural diversity, multiculturalism ,” said Bresee. “The phrase that was always used was we have strength in our diversity. I love to think the celebration of Pride is a continuation of that. In those days we were talking about ethnicity and nationality, but now we’re talking about humanity. We’re talking about people being able to be who they are, out publicly enjoying themselves and enjoying who they truly are.”

Bresee spoke of the many ways people identify, whether its their nationally, their profession or their orientation.

“There’s lots of ways that we label ourselves but most importantly label yourself as me,” said Bresee. “Be true to yourself.”

Mohawk Bay of Quinte Chief Donald Maracle offered the Indigenous perspective.

“Our culture is built on the foundation of peace, respect and thanks giving to the creator,” said Maracle. “I want to acknowledge the creator who gave us this beautiful day so that we could gather together as family, friends, neighbours in the spirit of peace and friendship.”

“When a community accepts each other and they can work together, we’ll have a stronger community,” added Maracle. “The creator gives each person gifts that they should use to contribute to the good of everybody. In our traditional society the wellness of everybody mattered.”

Shelby Kramp-Neuman, MP for Hastings-Lennox and Addington spoke as well.

“Acceptance, not just of each other, but of ourselves is a critical element of our community and I think that should be celebrated,” said Kramp-Neuman. “That’s part of what Pride is, the celebration of who we are and who we love. Another often overlooked side of a Pride event is education. The people who organize this event today and all of its participants are providing a unique opportunity for people who are not traditionally a part of this community to come down, engage in healthy dialogue and celebration and learn how vibrant it could be. That should be the message that everyone takes home. Love and respect for each other.”

Speaking on behalf of Greater Napanee, deputy mayor Brian Calver said the event demonstrates the town is accepting of all backgrounds.

“I genuinely believe that Napanee is an incredible place to live,” said Calver. “You can get as good a latte here as anywhere in Toronto. You can find high end fashion right downtown. For me it’s all about world class fishing and hunting. Events like this highlight the fact that you don’t need to be in a big city to find acceptance.”

Along with declaring June as Pride Month, the town also held a ceremonial Pride flag raising outside its offices at 99 Advance Ave. on May 31.

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