2018 Pride Parade Grand Marshals Announcement
May 25, 2020
In 2018, we are inviting people to Be You. Bring All Of You. We all come with complex histories and backgrounds, yet are often pressured to compartmentalize our identities. As we celebrate our 40th Anniversary, we are reflecting on the legacy of activism which has brought about the societal progress we celebrate today, as well as those who are leading the charge today for justice for all members of our communities. It is with pride and pleasure that we announce our 2018 Pride Parade Grand Marshals, Laurie McDonald, Ron Dutton, and A Mile In Our Moccasins, whose historic and current activism have contributed to the legacy of our diverse communities. Our Grand Marshals will ride in style during the Pride Parade courtesy Dilawri Auto Group.
Laurie McDonald is a Two Spirit from the Enoch Cree Nation near Edmonton Alberta, who recognized he was given a gift at a young age. Laurie’s early childhood was spent surrounded by a family of nine who accepted him as he was. Unfortunately, in 1960, his life was turned upside down. Laurie was scooped and placed in the Ermineskin Indian Residential School – where his life became a daily struggle fighting off prejudice, sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect. But survive he did. Upon leaving this school, Laurie promised himself that he would do everything in his power to restore the pride in being Two Spirit and to protect the rights of Aboriginal children using education. Throughout his career – first as an educator, then as a front-line child protection social worker, and now as an instructor for Aboriginal social workers – Laurie has reflected on how his Two Spirit identity and the honour of this role is intertwined in all aspects of his life. Recently, he celebrated 41 years with his life partner, Peter Dawson, and the 41 year anniversary of his founding of the Greater Vancouver Native Culture Two Spirit Society. His organization is still active in educating, supporting, and promoting LGBT and First Nations communities as well as Two Spirit people.
The Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Two Spirit Society (GVNCS) was founded by Laurie alongside Niel WIlson and Chief Louie Grate. Though the GVNCS began and was birthed due to prejudice and racial basis, it has been a thriving society serving LGBTQ2+ communities for 41 years, serving as a surrogate family and culture forum for Two Spirit people and their allies.
Find GVNCS here.
Ron Dutton’s work on the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives began in the mid-1970s, amidst the intense political activism of the gay liberation movement. The movement’s mission aimed to overturn centuries of oppressive attitudes by religious, legal, and social institutions. This groundbreaking activism was making history, yet no one seemed to be documenting it. Ron drew on his library science skills to collect and organize everything that came to hand, from posters and political pamphlets to press reports and meeting minutes. The Archives profile quickly expanded to include drag queens and leather boys, the arts, sports, health, religious and ethnic minorities, seniors and youth, small town and rural dwellers. Ron also began collecting backwards as queer material emerged about the past. He has been afforded many opportunities thanks to his work, and without intending to, became an obsessive advocate for preserving the rich, unique heritage of Greater Vancouver’s queer communities. 42 years later, the Archives now tops 3/4 million items, and has outgrown Ron’s capacity to store it. In March 2018 it was moved to the City of Vancouver Archives for its conservation, public access, and conversion into searchable, permanent formats. Ron continues to collect old and new materials as they emerge for periodic deposit with the main body of the collection.
In the year that Pride Society has given its festival a “History ” theme, Ron sees it is a special honour to be named as a Parade Marshall. He hopes that it will encourage others to add their memorabilia to the ever-evolving story of the LGBTQIA2+ communities. Anyone with queer materials to contribute to the archives can connect with Ron at email@example.com
A Mile in Our Moccasins:
A Mile in Our Moccasins is a short film that was co-created by five Indigenous youth living with HIV. Christina Tom, Lulu Gurney, Preston Leon, William Flett and others worked to develop an Indigenous Youth Speaker Series as a way to provide the information and guidance around HIV and sexual health that was lacking for queer youth.
The film was a seed of an idea, brought to life through an Indigenous talking circle. The circle gave them an opportunity to share their realities, strengths, challenges, and experiences of living with HIV. This powerful process was the vision that became A Mile in Our Moccasins. A mixture of lived experience, scientific facts, and Indigenous culture and spirituality are woven throughout the film.
The vision behind the film is to combat HIV stigma, address HIV myths and misconceptions, while awakening compassion and awareness in those who view it. The youth in the film are not victims of circumstance. They have transformed some of the darkest, most painful parts of their lives, and used them as a driving force to support and empower Indigenous communities.
Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of teaching and knowledge transfer in Indigenous culture. A Mile in Our Moccasins is a story of resilience, healing, and empowerment.