THUNDER BAY - In two years, the city of Thunder Bay will play host to more than 70 pride organizations from across the country, which local pride members say is just what the city needs to continue moving toward inclusiveness for all people.
“I think is part of the ongoing discussion that this community is having,” said Jason Veltri, chair of the Thunder Pride Association. “This is the coming together that this city needs, the renewal of a brighter day, an inclusive city that racism and intolerance is not going to be accepted, and we have an opportunity at Thunder Pride to lead that discussion and lead that change.”
Thunder Bay has been chosen to host the 2021 Fierté Canada National Pride Conference and Annual General Meeting after the bid submitted by Thunder Pride was accepted by the delegates at the 2019 conference that just wrapped up last week in Ottawa.
“We are very excited to bring this conference to Thunder Bay,” Veltri said. “It will be the first time our city has hosted a national conference of his scale for the LGBTIQ2 community. We are ready and raring to go and to welcome everybody to Thunder Bay.”
Veltri called the winning bid a watershed moment for Thunder Pride, which only started in the city eight years ago.
“Now able to showcase the strength and the growth the community has gone through, the inclusiveness that is being shown, and be able to welcome the rest of this country to our beautiful city.”
The national conference brings together more than 70 pride organizations from across Canada to discuss a wide variety of issues, from engaging volunteers to how technology can be used to drive pride organizations, and policy discussions on how to lobby for increased funding from the federal government.
During the conference in Ottawa, a Pride on the Hill Day was held to lobby federal MPs to put forward a funding model for pride organizations in Canada and Veltri said he is hopeful it will come through in the 2019 federal budget.
“That will help us, especially in Thunder Bay being a smaller pride organization that relies on community support to provide that predictable, stable funding going forward so we can grow our organization,” he said.
According to Veltri, the conference could see between 150 and 200 delegates coming to the city in 2021. And this could be a very important year for pride organizations across the country if Montreal wins its bid to host World Pride.
“That will take on an added significance to help them plan and take part in,” he said. “We encourage all our members across Canada to vote for Montreal.”
The next steps for Thunder Pride will be putting together a local planning committee and Veltri is encouraging members from every community to get involved, including marginalized people, trans people, and the Indigenous community.
“Those are the communities we want to showcase and really put an emphasis on in our workshops,” he said. “It is something that was a big part of this conference and we want to make sure everyone has a seat at the table and is encouraged to take part and share their ideas and be part of the movement to create change.”
The Fierté Canada National Pride Conference is scheduled to take place from Jan. 26 to 29 at the Delta Hotel at Prince Arthur’s Landing.
“I believe we can make a difference in this community,” Veltri said. “We are not just focused on LGBTIQ2 rights, but growing this community.”