STREET FESTIVAL FOR PRIDE
A post-parade street festival for Pride is a go, says this year’s president Shawn Ewing after meeting with city staff. The “adult-oriented” Davie Street party will feature staged entertainment and a beer garden from 4 pm to 8 pm on Sun, Aug 3. Before that, the usual Sunset Beach festival, including performers and vendors, will entertain starting around 2 pm. The Parade begins at noon. The staged hours allow for minimal interruption of transit busses, says Ewing. She’s impressed with the co-operation at city hall since city council backed councillor Tim Stevenson’s motion earlier this spring to work with the Pride Society. As Xtra West went to press, Stevenson introduced a motion for council to endorse the Pride Parade as a city event-another first at city hall. He says this year’s motion is a lead-up to next year, when he expects city hall to become an official sponsor of the Pride Parade, including making a major financial commitment. Last week, city hall gave the Pride Society $6,000 of the $10,000 grant money it requested-the highest grant awarded any group this year. Ewing is hoping to see even more cash given the festival’s 25th birthday status, and its success as a tourism draw.
BIG GRANTS FOR TORONTO PRIDE
Canada’s largest Pride Parade-drawing up to a million participants and spectators-has been given a big cash injection. The Toronto festival is getting matching grants of $100,000 each from the federal and provincial governments and another $50,000 from city hall. Toronto is counting on the annual Pride Parade to kick-start its tourist industry, which has taken a huge hit because of SARS. Pride is estimated to inject approximately $70 million into the Toronto economy. Meanwhile, a social conservative group is pressuring businesses that sponsor Toronto Pride-including Labatt Blue, Via Rail, Delta Chelsea, Rogers, Showcase Canada and Montclair-by organizing a boycott of their products.
City hall hit the new owners of the Parkhill Hotel with a legal notice May 22 ordering them to completely remove by Jun 5 new partitions they had built in suites on the fourth to ninth floors.
The letter also refused a building permit for the property on the grounds that the chief building officer may turn down a permit “whenever incorrect information is submitted.”
Gay business owners have objected to the Parkhill becoming a residential building. They cite the gay community’s desire to turn Davie St into a 24-7 tourism destination, including bars with late closing hours. The hotel is now owned by Northland Properties Corp.
AWARD FOR CHAMBERLAIN
Surrey Kindergarten teacher James Chamberlain is this year’s winner of the prestigious Award for the Advancement of Intellectual Freedom in Canada, presented by the Canadian Library Association (CLA).
The CLA is the pre-eminent organization representing librarians in Canada.
The award recognizes outstanding contributions to intellectual freedom, and honours individuals or institutions that have demonstrated leadership and courage in resisting censorship and opposing violations of intellectual freedom in Canada. Chamberlain is the Surrey teacher who sparked a landmark case that led eventually to the Supreme Court of Canada over the issue of whether three children’s books depicting same-sex families should be permitted in the classroom.
“I’m surprised and delighted to receive this award from the Canadian Library Association,” Chamberlain says. “I’m so grateful to all the librarians who were steadfast in their support of these books and of our efforts to have them, and the families they depict, take their rightful place in our schools.”
The Supreme Court ruled last December that the Surrey School Board erred in relying on the religious views of some parents in deciding to disallow the books in the classroom. The board is conducting public hearings into whether its book ban should be reversed. A decision on the books is expected Jun 12.
The Quesnel teacher and guidance counsellor famous for his anti-gay-rights letters to the editor recently told a Christian newspaper that he plans to leave BC and find a new profession. Last month, the BC College of Teachers suspended Chris Kempling’s teaching licence for a month after it found his conduct as a classroom authority figure unbecoming. Kempling had written numerous letters to his local newspaper and told his students that sexual orientation can be cured. “Mr Kempling’s actions disclose a failure to uphold values that are fundamental to the education system and Canadian society, values that include sexual equality and respect for persons of differing sexual orientation,” the college ruled. Kempling says he hopes to leave BC at the end of this school year.