Vancouver Pride Society – 5 Years of Ongoing Learning, Growth and Change
April 12, 2021
For transparency, we have prepared a timeline of decisions and work that VPS has done to learn, grow and change. We list them here only to let our community know that we are committed to ongoing learning, listening to community feedback and community accountability.
In 2016, our new staff team was hired. This year marked a shift in the operations at Vancouver Pride Society. For the first time, we were able to employ a team of year-round staff who were dedicated to making systemic change within the organization. This increased capacity enabled us to move beyond the frantic pace of summer event planning. We have put time and resources into critically examining our organization, building and repairing relationships with our communities, and finding ways to remove barriers and increase access across our events and organization.
The following list of activities is not exhaustive and we will continue adding to it. We are committed to continually listening and learning.
Extensive Community Consultation – Barriers to Participation in Pride
Report located here: https://www.queeryme.com/display/viewpdf_applicationFile.php?id=127
In 2016, BLM-Vancouver requested that VPS ask VPD to remove the large armored vehicle from the parade. We did so.
In 2017, we compromised and allowed a small portion of VPD to march in uniform, the rest were in shorts and t-shirts. https://vancouverpride.ca/news/statement-regarding-police-participation-in-2017-pride-parade/
VPS made the decision to not allow police uniforms, weapons or marked vehicles in the parade.
From 2018: https://vancouverpride.ca/news/faq-regarding-police-decision/
VPS acknowledges that police in uniforms do not belong in the pride parade.
From 2018: https://vancouverpride.ca/news/which-voices-do-we-listen-to/
VPS identifies the following priorities for Pride season:
- Hiring more QTBIPOC artists and performers on our festival stages
- Increasing space and services at our parade accessibility viewing zone
- Increased amount of sober and non-party focused programming
- Changing programming to better meet community needs (e.g. smaller events, interactive art pieces, etc.)
VPS changes our mission statement to: Vancouver Pride Society strives to produce inclusive, celebratory events, and advocate for LGBTQAI2S+ communities through an intersectional lens.
In our strategic planning session one need identified was to increase the number of QTBIPOC staff and board members. In January of 2019, VPS created a specific staff position to engage in QTBIPOC Outreach. VPS Board Outreach Committee focuses on recruiting diverse members.
QTBIPOC Community Consultation completed – consultation included an array of of BIPOC led organizations, Vancouver’s Indigenous Host Nations, racialized individuals, and other queer serving organizations.
Pride Season activities:
- QTBIPOC specific events were created and funded. (QTBIPOC Talent Showcase and HotFruit)
- VPS engaged Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods to do an accessibility audit of all events sites, our office and online channels.
- VPS changed the format of the former Davie Street Party to 3 day Davie Village Promenade which provided opportunities for experiencing interactive art and performances and to gather with friends in a more low-key, less crowded environment.
In June 2020, VPS released this statement standing in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and the anti-racism uprising. https://vancouverpride.ca/news/black-lives-matter/
This statement includes a series of action items, all of which we have been able to accomplish:
- $5000 of funding to two Black, queer organized events during Pride Week
- Hired Black and Indigenous headliners and performers for our Sunset Beach Mainstage
- Ensured a majority of racialized performers and hosts at all Pride events
- Funded HotFruit, a QTBIPOC event for the second year
- Provided $5000 of bursaries to people and organizations to do anti-racism work
- Hosted an anti-racism workshop series that included workshops led by QTBIPOC about decolonization, Black Pride History, anti-oppression and a session specifically for white people to unpack their racism.
- Hired a racialized person into a senior leadership role
VPS participates in an anti-racism audit and training with Euphony Works (January – April 2021)
VPS funded a Two-Spirit conversation circle and Two-Spirit led and organized QTBIPOC event
Hired year round QTBIPOC staff who interface with the public (Communications Team, Talent Coordinator)
VPS staff and board participate in Decolonizing Workshops with Hummingbirds Rising (April 2021)
More to come for 2021!