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Capital Pride refocuses after resignations

Micheal Lafontaine and Brodie Fraser say festival is on track

The Capital Pride board at the 2012 AGM. Four board members remain from the original ten. Credit: Bradley Turcotte

Ottawa Pride is less than a month away and, despite the exits of three more board members, the chair and vice-chair of communications and sponsorship say the festival is on track.

Ian McLeod and Justin Broekema, elected to the board at the 2012 annual general meeting (AGM), resigned from their positions last month. Gordon Boissonneault, appointed to fill a vacant spot left by three other board members who resigned, also resigned in June.

McLeod tells Xtra that his exit is due to an acute health condition.

“I remain committed to the success of Capital Pride,” McLeod writes via email June 6. “It would be better to have someone in a seat that can commit based on their health for the duration.”

Boissonneault, a former Capital Pride chair, did not respond to several requests for comment.

“He took on a very large contract in the government,” chair Micheal Lafonatine says of Boissonneault’s resignation. “He looked at it and said ‘I really can’t commit the time.’ He regretted leaving because he loves doing this; he said he can’t balance the two.”

As for Broekema, the former vice-chair of communications moved to Montreal, Lafontaine says, and attempts to have him work remotely did not pan out. Broekema confirms Lafontaine’s statement.

“Board members often have to balance the volunteer aspect of the organization with their professional lives,” says Brodie Fraser, Capital Pride’s new vice-chair of communications. “It’s hard sometimes because people here would love to do more.”

The three latest resignations follow the resignations of Steve Crosby and Chris Ellis, who resigned in February and Eliott Youden who resigned in April.

Fraser, who sat on the board in 2009 and 2010, initially returned to Capital Pride this year to assist with the organization’s Pride guide. When Broekema resigned, Fraser says he saw an opportunity to bring his “experience and corporate knowledge to the position.”

“I felt like we could hit the ground running if I jumped in there, and we did,” says Fraser, who also sits on the board of Fierté Canada Pride.

When asked if the resignations worry the board, both Lafonatine and Fraser say it is always a concern when board members exit so close to the festival. But Lafonatine says other board members took over the vacant positions until suitable replacements could be found.

“The worry is more in the time commitment to recruit someone new for the position when you could be looking for that other sponsor or looking for that other opportunity,” Fraser explains. “It becomes a time commitment to fill those other positions but we’ve actually had people step forward so that’s been a relief.”

The board is now comprised of Lafontaine, Fraser, Jodie McNamara (vice-chair of operations,) Giselle Daryle Gardipy (treasurer,) Tova Larsen (secretary,) Ashley Blackwood (community fair director,) Marisa Borracci (director,) Hannah Watt (youth director) and Doug Saunder-Riggins who is returning as past chair.

At Capital Pride’s 2012 AGM, Saunder-Riggins and exiting board member Joanne Law expressed their joy that they were no longer on the board by dancing around the meeting room. But Fraser says he coerced Saunders-Riggins to return. He believes the former chair’s corporate knowledge will augment the festival.

The volunteer coordinator positions are also filled and include Veronica Michelle (entertainment coordinator,) Andrea Guilbault (gates coordinator,) Yanbin Yuan (health & fitness day coordinator,) Jonathan Dawe (national outreach coordinator,) Deryk Devanz (stage coordinator,) Danniel Oickle (site coordinator) and Steph Cowan (marketing coordinator).

Cowan recently traveled to Pride Toronto to promote Capital Pride. Fraser says the team has put “a concerted effort” into visiting other Prides in the region and using social media to promote Ottawa’s celebration.

“It’s really creating a lot of vibe for Capital Pride,” Fraser says. “That brings a lot of attention so people will come here and say, ‘I’ve got to come to Ottawa because it’s fun.’”

Crosby and Youden will also act as bar coordinators.

“The people on the board have got a lot of experience in what they’ve done, so they are bringing it forward. They have a lot of enthusiasm and are totally committed,” Lafontaine says. “If you’re there that speaks for itself in terms of you want to make this happen for the community, for the city,” Fraser adds.

Youden directed questions regarding his decision to volunteer despite his resignation earlier this year to Fraser.

Two sources tell Xtra that during last year’s celebration, $1500 went missing from the operations room.

However, Lafontaine maintains that there was no theft.

“It is funds that we can’t allocate. Not misplaced, because that means it went somewhere else,” Lafontaine explains. “It was not stolen. They are there, it’s just that we have to allocate them through proper accounting procedures and that’s what is not there.”

Looking ahead to the festival, Fraser says changes to the appointing of the grand marshal and the parade route will make this year’s celebration unique.

“We’ve got a lot of fun things planned for the summer. The parade is coming together, the info fair is coming together,” Fraser says. “We’ve got over 70 events listed for the festival. More businesses on Bank Street are taking part this year too.”