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Capital Pride reclaims lost items

Organizers hope to find way to share items from Pride’s past

Capital Pride’s archives are safe from the landfill and could potentially be displayed during this year’s 30th anniversary.

The new Capital Pride group gathered recently at A1 Mini Storage to move archived items, including the Pride flag, to a larger storage facility so it can begin sorting them, says Capital Pride’s spokesperson Tammy Dopson. Items range from filing cabinets full of papers, including minutes from meetings that took place two decades ago, to props from parades over the years, she says.

“You should see this stuff,” Dopson says. “There was a whole bag of wigs. It was great. We tried them on.”

Following the former Capital Pride’s bankruptcy, Peter Zanette informed the community at a public meeting on Jan 20 that due to an unpaid bill, the Pride flag, along with other archived material, was left in a storage locker and could potentially be discarded. The following month, Used Ottawa and the AIDS Committee of Ottawa (ACO) launched a fundraising initiative under the #UsedHelps program, urging community members to use the hashtag #UsedHasPride to raise funds to pay Pride’s outstanding storage locker fees, which added up to $897.95. Unfortunately, the campaign didn’t bring in any money.

“They didn’t get a red cent,” Dopson says of the appeal to the community.

Used Ottawa had pledged to match the funds raised for #UsedHasPride, up to $450. Although no funds came in, Used Ottawa split the cost of the storage fees with the new Capital Pride and the items are now safe from the landfill, she says.

“Of course we would have loved to see the community get behind the #UsedHasPride initiative by utilizing #UsedHelps,” says Angus MacIsaac, community coordinator for Used Ottawa. “At the end of the day, the main thing was to see 30 years of memories stay safe and accessible to the community.”

Dopson says she’s grateful the owner of A1 Mini Storage was patient and allowed Pride’s archives to stay in storage — despite the unpaid bill — while the new Capital Pride organization was put in place.

“We’re blessed that the owner of A1 didn’t lob those contents out because he had every right to do that,” she says.

The next step is organizing a retrospective, although it’s more of a hope than a plan at this stage, Dopson says.

“Wouldn’t it be great if for the 30th anniversary we could have a storefront operation, like a museum almost, open for June, July and August, for the duration of our 30th anniversary year where people could come in and see 30 years of the festival being displayed,” she says.

A commemorative display could potentially feature not only Pride’s archives, but also mementos from community members who were willing to lend their own items they’d kept from Pride festivals of the past, Dopson says.

“A space where everyone could visit and reflect on how far the community has come, especially leading up to the 30th anniversary of Pride in Ottawa would be a fantastic idea,” MacIsaac says.

Ideally, the storefront anniversary display would be in the Village, because the emphasis is to drive the festival back to the Village, Dopson says.

“It’ll be a bit of a miracle to pull it off in the next month and a half, but then again, we keep pulling off little milestones and we’re hoping we can do this too,” she says.