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More than 20 UFCW Canada activists, staff and members from across Canada recently showed their Pride by marching in the 2011 Montreal Pride Parade. Included in the delegation were UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley; Executive Assistant to the National President Louis Bolduc; UFCW Canada Local Union 500 President Tony Filato; Local Union 503 President Steeve Bégin; Director of Human Rights Naveen Mehta, as well as other members of the UFCW Canada National Council Human Rights, Equity and Diversity Committee.
UFCW Canada was the largest labour contingent at the parade, which drew activists from as far away as British Columbia and five other provinces. The Labour contingent at the Pride Parade was organized by the Quebec Federation of Labour (QFL), where Brother Bolduc also serves as a Vice President. QFL president Michel Arsenault joined the activists to lead labour's turnout at the Pride celebration.
The August 14 parade featured about 2,500 participants as it travelled several kilometres along René-Lévesque Boulevard. Tens of thousands of spectators came out to encourage the participants and join the celebration.
Political leaders participating in the parade included Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois, and interim federal leader of the NDP, Nycole Turmel. No member of the governing Conservative Party made an official appearance.
“This is an immense opportunity for UFCW Canada to show our Pride to the sisters and brothers in Montreal,” said Wayne Hanley, UFCW Canada National President, who marched with his family alongside. “With our union participating in eight different Pride Parades across Canada we want our members to know that UFCW Canada is building Pride based on real equality for ALL of our members.”
The Montreal Pride parade featured dozens of colourful and vibrant floats incorporating this year’s theme, 3011: Odyssey of the Future. Adding to the vibrancy was a swath of golden UFCW Canada flags and shirts. “Watching a sea of UFCW Canada gold during the parade was definitely an emblematic gesture of our union pride while showing solidarity with our LGBT sisters and brothers,” said Tony Filato, President of UFCW Local 500. “The response we received from spectators was incredible.”
Not only was Pride Montreal one big rolling party, it was an opportunity to promote advocacy and equality. Through their placards, costumes and banners, many cultural, community and advocacy groups sent a message that discrimination, inequality and the injustice still affect the LGBT community.
“One of the reasons we are here at Montreal Pride and other Pride parades across Canada is to ensure that UFCW Canada has a strong and proud voice in the LGBT community,” says Naveen Mehta, Director of the Human Rights for UFCW Canada. “We want to continue to build a movement where unions and equity seeking groups work together to construct a more just Canada. An integration of ideas and actions based on genuine solidarity with LGBT communities is essential.”
On August 13, a day prior to the parade, UFCW Canada attended a QFL event with the Quebec Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jean-Marc Fournier. Community activists and UFCW Canada members had the opportunity to get first-hand information on what the government of Quebec has undertaken to fight homophobia. The minister underscored the many challenges the community has encountered in trying to eliminate acts of prejudice associated with homophobia.
Pride Community Day was also held on August 13. Saint Catherine Street was lined with hundreds of booths representing activist and community groups from, and in support of LGBT communities. HRED National Council Committee member and Local 503 union representative Louise Lefebvre was one of the hosts of the UFCW Canada Information Booth, which disseminated information about UFCW Canada's national initiatives with Egale Canada and the LGBT community.
As a member of the QFL LGBT Committee and a long time activist in the community, Sister Lefebvre thanked the National Office and all the UFCW Canada Local Unions that participated in the Pride parade. “Unions have one of the most significant roles in protecting human rights not only in the workplace but in society as well," said Sister Lefebvre. "Our role is to ensure that sisters and brothers from the LGBT communities are not just comfortable to be themselves in their workplaces, but to also ensure that their voices are loud and proud in their union.”