Opinion
1 min

A year in review 2016: A tale of two Prides, but which one was worse?

As Pride Toronto plunged into a tailspin of resignations and accusations, Vancouver Pride slowly got back on its feet — or did it?

“Frankly, Black Lives Matter is not going to tell us that there are no more floats anymore in the parade,” former Pride Toronto executive director Mathieu Chantelois (centre) said about signing off on the group’s list of nine demands at Pride 2016. The demands included the removal of police from booths and floats, which Pride later backtracked on. Credit: Rob Easton/Daily Xtra

The year started off well for Pride Toronto. Unlike many pride societies, Pride Toronto appeared to be on strong financial footing. And with a whole month of festivities planned, it looked like the organization was set up for an even bigger year than World Pride.

But that all came to an end when Mathieu Chantelois, executive director at the time, publicly repudiated the promises he had made to Black Lives Matter Toronto during their protest.

The aftermath of that decision will have ramifications for many years to come. Not only did this lead indirectly to the publicizing of accusations of serious misconduct against Chantelois, but Pride eventually apologized for a long history of anti-blackness. There still hasn’t been a decision on what capacity law enforcement will be involved in Pride festivities in the future.

Chantelois resigned and Pride still doesn’t have an executive director. Other staffers have since left the organization. Board elections are coming up next month and it’s unclear what direction Pride Toronto will take in the future.

As Pride Toronto plunged into a tailspin, Vancouver’s Pride Society seemed to be pulling out of its own from 2015 — maybe.

Following a tumultuous year of staff firing, resignations and a human rights complaint, the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) settled the complaint and hired two new managers in March 2016 to replace its former executive director, Ray Lam, who resigned in fall 2015. 

The new hires meant board members could finally step back from running events themselves on a daily basis, co-chair Alan Jernigan told a very small turnout at the VPS annual general meeting in November, signalling a possible return towards greater stability.

But will it last?