A rainbow flag greeted students stepping off the bus at Capilano University in North Vancouver Feb 22, 2016, to kick off the school’s second annual Pride week.
Organizer Jon Kinsley says he was undeterred by the rainbow flag burning that marred Pride at the University of British Columbia earlier this month.
“This is a time for community to come together, to celebrate and to show that what’s happened won’t demoralize us, won’t stop us,” Kinsley says.
“I think with that happening, it shows the importance of these events,” he continues.
“It shows that we need to continue planning, and educate to empower the queer community,” says Kinsley, who just graduated from Capilano University and has been the driving force behind its student Pride week.
First-year student and Capilano Queer Collective volunteer Rachel El-Hamamsy says the flag burning at UBC was surprising and appalling, but she’s glad to see Capilano’s Pride events are going ahead as planned.
“It’s great because people get more comfortable with queerness,” she says, “then specific safe spaces becomes less important because the safe space is everywhere.”
El-Hamamsy particularly appreciated the Pride fair in the library that featured a variety of groups from different segments of Greater Vancouver’s queer community.
“Something like this is awesome. I’ve been learning about all these places I didn’t actually know existed,” she says. “I’m from Calgary and I don’t really have any queer friends over there, so I thought this would be a good way to feel like more a part of the community.”
“This event is all about bringing community together, and bringing awareness and visibility to the queer community in an area of the city that’s a little more conservative,” Kinsley says. “You don’t see visible acts of Pride on the North Shore.”
He says the City of North Vancouver has been supportive of Capilano Pride Week, and promised to raise a Pride flag of its own. District Mayor Richard Walton even made a point of dropping by the community Pride fair to show his support.
In its first year, the students’ Pride week saw little involvement from the rest of the university community, Kinsley notes. That’s changed this year.
“This year has been about me connecting with different stakeholders and trying to bring them into the picture, trying to get them to contribute,” he says.
The university community has been extremely receptive to his invitation, he says. Some classes are featuring queer content to celebrate the week, while the marketing and communications department purchased the Pride flag now flying at the bus loop, and the library created a special display of queer literature. Campus food services, run by Chartwells, even created special Pride pasta for the occasion.
Capilano Pride Week runs until Friday, Feb 26 and features film screenings, drag makeup tutorial, workshops on anti-oppression, queer body image, intersectionality and how to be a good ally, as well as a community dinner and open mic night. The week culminates in the Glitter Extravaganza, a party hosted at Bar None, featuring DJs and drag queens, with proceeds going towards Vancouver’s Rainbow Refugee Committee.
“To me, these events are all about building bridges to external organizations, to other schools, as well as the campus community, so we can be a stronger community together,” Kinsley says.