After a couple of years away, the Steinbach Pride Walk is set to return on Sunday at 1:00 PM at KR Barkman Park.
"It's been two years and it's been a doozy of a couple of years" Alan Fehr, one of the organizers said. "We are just really excited to have the opportunity to meet again. Be community in our community. It's so exciting."
Fehr shares details about the event. "It starts at 1:00 pm with some speakers, I'll be sharing a little about my journey and how being in isolation during a pandemic when you're already a part of an invisible minority and the challenges that come with adapting to that. We'll be speaking with a local woman who was able to find ways to navigate through those challenges and thrive in spite of not being able to physically connect with people. That's such an important part of healthiness and I think we've learned that over the last couple of years."
For Fehr, he says Pride is about two things, "Outwardly, it's about celebrating equality. We're not second-class citizens, we are not deviants, not weirdos, and not the butt of jokes. We are equal to anyone else. We're saying we're not going to accept any treatment less than that. That's the outward message. The inward message for the community within is you are not alone. It's such an important message to let everyone know because, by default, it does feel very isolating, pandemic or not. The sad truth is that some people don't survive that. I don't know how many people we've lost over the last couple of years but I do know that one is too many. That's why we need these kinds of events to re-enforce that you are part of a community, you are loved and you are supported. We got you. We're going to celebrate that."
The Pride Walk will start around 1:45 pm and Fehr explains the route. "We will start at KR Barkman Park. We'll be marching down the street. Unfortunately, RCMP says they do not have the staffing to block off traffic for us, so they've asked that we stay on the sidewalks, which we will comply with. We're going to march down Main Street down to Reimer, cross the street at the lights, march back down Main Street by the fire hall and wrap up back at the park."
Looking back at the very first Pride March in Steinbach, Fehr remembers the response back then but says it's different now and he remains optimistic with an eye toward the future. "I can hope, I can envision, I can project tons of positive things. I don't know the dimmer aspects. If nothing else, the next generation will have this be a non-issue. They won't blink an eye when the topic of two guys getting married comes up because, why wouldn't they? That's all the hope I need. Regardless of where we are at now, I believe in 30 years we will be in an even better place than we are now."
"This year, we're just putting our toes back in the water but the ideas we're kicking around for next year are really, really exciting," Fehr says with a big smile. "We are trying to focus on this year but we've got a great group of people that is going to help grow this event moving forward."
Everyone is welcome to join and support Sunday afternoon, says Fehr. "It is an amazing opportunity to even just stand on the sidelines and smile and support. Just being at the park and listening is an awesome show of support. The more people we have there, the harder it is to feel alone and the harder it is to feel unloved. We are all about loving and accepting. Everyone is welcome to come down."