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Conference in Kelowna working to amplify queer voices in rural areas

Despite progress in big cities, queer people continue to feel unwelcome in small towns
Attendees at the 2023 Fierté Canada Pride conference in Kelowna. (Jacqueline Gelineau/Capital News)

Members of Pride organizations from across Canada have gathered in Kelowna for the 2023 Fierté Canada Pride conference.

Representatives from more than 75 Pride organizations have gathered at the Delta Grand hotel downtown Kelowna to learn, share experiences and ideas, network and spread love, said Chris Kennedy, the Board Communications Director for Fierté Canada Pride.

The theme of the 2023 conference is ‘Amplifying Rural and Remote Voices’. Fae Johnstone, Executive Director of Wisdom2Action said that amplifying queer voices in rural areas continues to be important as anti-2SLGBTQIA+ rhetoric, bigotry and hate continues to impact queer people across the country, particularly those in places without an established Pride community.

“We’re seeing rising 2SLGBTQIA+ hate across the country and it’s important that we come together as a community to plan and strategize to create safer spaces in our communities and across the country,” said Johnstone.

“Hate, bigotry and stigma is a whole different world in a small town,” said Johnstone. They explained that they are not exposed to the same negativity or prejudice that some queer folks in rural communities experience.

“We’re seeing a lot of radicalization of young men, and that’s particularly hitting some of our folks in rural communities.”

Johnstone said that it is important to stand together to support each other and the unique struggles that communities across Canada face.

“We’re seeing a lot of progress in our big cities, but we still see context where queer and trans folks have to run away from small towns.”

Julie Nobert-Demarchi, the President of Fierté Canada Pride said that their ultimate goal is to create space for all people “where we can thrive and really be ourselves.”

She explained that in rural and remote areas, Pride organizations often have to take on many unique roles to serve their communities despite having limited resources.

The event is being held from March 9-12.


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Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

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