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The History of Capital Pride Print E-mail
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Saturday, 15 August 2009 22:44

Capital Pride: a proud tradition

Here in Ottawa, the first "gay" pride celebration in our area was organized in 1986 by Gays of Ottawa (GO, which later became the Association of Lesbians, Transgender, Gay, and Bisexuals of Ottawa - ALTGBO).

In 1989, the pride celebration became a week of activities: dances, exhibits, films, sporting events, and receptions. These activities were generally organized under the auspices of GO. We had 300 people attend the first parade and picnic, and the mayor of the City of Ottawa, Jim Durrell, proclaimed Equality Day.

In the 1990's, the organizing committee of Pride Week separated from ALTGBO. Representatives of other community groups took part in greater numbers in the planning of the week of activities. In 1995, the group decided to adopt a structure, and the executive was elected at a general meeting in February 1996. In the context of this restructuring, the committee wrote out a bylaw and formed a corporation in May 1997.

Some highlights from the 1990s include:

  • In 1997, an important fundraising campaign allowed the Committee to buy a 30' by 60' rainbow flag for events locally and outside the region. The flag is available to community groups throughout the country.
  •  In 1998, as the area was recovering from the most devastating ice storm in memory, the committee initiated the "Trees of Pride" to help in the area-wide effort to replant trees that were destroyed in the storm.
  • Beginning in 1997 and 1998 respectively, Regional Chair Bob Chiarelli and Prime Minister Jean Chrétien issued a proclamation supporting the festival.

In 2001, over 8,000 people gathered along Bank Street to cheer on as the parade made its way on a longer route from Lansdowne Park to Parliament Hill. 2002's Pride events blew away all expectations - 55,000 people attended the parade and the street party. No one expected this. Pride 2002 wasn't just the most successful Pride Festival here, but it was one of the most successful 1-day events in Ottawa. Organizers took a small picnic in the park and brought it to the very streets in which we live our daily lives. Pride Ottawa has been transformed from a secluded, isolated event into one of the most important festivals of the city. In 2005, Pride returned to Festival Plaza and undertook a process to pay down debt and restore long-term financial stability. 2006 marked our 20th anniversary – our Platinum Year. Despite pouring rain, our community came out to celebrate, ensuring financial success.

In 2008, we asked you to "Live Your Pride" every day and in 2009 we ask you to join us in "Putting Pride on the Map".