Montreal will host Canada’s inaugural national Pride festival in 2017, as the city celebrates its 375th birthday and the 50th anniversary of Expo 67, and Canada marks 150 years of Confederation.
Fierté Montréal will organize the 10-day Canada Pride celebration from August 11–20, 2017. The program will open with a weekend of sports events and feature an international conference on LGBT rights, like Toronto hosted for WorldPride 2014, as well as a series of indoor and outdoor parties and concerts, plus Fierté Montréal’s annual LGBT Community Day, Dyke March and Pride parade.
Fierté Montréal president Eric Pineault estimates Canada Pride’s budget will be between $2.3 and 3 million dollars.
Montreal’s bid to host the first Canada Pride was accepted at the 2015 Fierté Canada Pride (FCP) and InterPride Region 7 Conference and annual general meeting in Saskatoon in February. Founded in 2004, FCP is a non-profit national association of Canadian Pride organizations run by volunteers.
“The conversation began a year ago in Winnipeg when Montreal proposed this new concept, a national Pride that would be licenced by FCP, just like InterPride licences WorldPride,” says FCP president Wilbur Turner.
“This year, Montreal explained how they would organize Canada Pride 2017, and their bid was overwhelmingly accepted by our membership,” Turner says. “We are negotiating the licensing fee but it won’t be a large number. It’s not intended to be a large money-maker; rather just provide scholarships to help people attend workshops at our annual conference.”
The goal is to have a different Canadian Pride organization host Canada Pride every four years.
Pineault says he came up with the concept for Canada Pride after seeing the momentum leading up to WorldPride in Toronto last year. “I not only thought it was time for Montreal to reassert its position in Canada’s LGBT movement, but knew we could pull off a very professional and polished Canada Pride because we already have the infrastructure in place,” he says.
Pineault hopes one million people will attend Canada Pride in 2017. “But we will be happy with 750,000,” he says, adding, “We expect to draw a sizable number of tourists from the Francophonie, from countries like Belgium and France. Our goal is to help put Montreal back on the international gay map, as well as bring national and international attention to pressing LGBT issues, such as transphobia.”
Fierté Montréal’s announcement comes less than a week after Daily Xtra reported that Divers/Cité, Montreal’s original Pride organization, seems to have folded. Though Divers/Cité launched Montreal’s first gay Pride parade and festival in 1993, it stepped away from organizing the annual parade in 2006. Fierté Montréal took over the task in 2007 and has done it ever since, while Divers/Cité ran a queer arts festival that now seems to be defunct.
Pineault hopes the municipal, provincial and federal governments will all help support Canada Pride financially. “Since we have replaced Black and Blue and Divers/Cité as Quebec’s number one LGBT event, we expect to get [increased] funding from all levels of government, as well as the fund for Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations,” he says.
He says he also hopes Tourisme Montréal will increase its funding to at least $150,000.
In a Canada Pride 2017 press release, Tourisme Montréal president and CEO Yves Lalumière states, “For over two decades, we have been working closely with our city’s vibrant LGBT community to market Montreal as a premiere destination for LGBT travellers. Tourisme Montréal is delighted to support Canada Pride, which is certain to attract visitors from across the country and around the world to discover — or rediscover — Montréal’s legendary hospitality and joie de vivre.”
During Canada Pride, Fierté Montréal will also inaugurate its second major outdoor stage, this one located in the city’s downtown Quartier des Spectacles. “Parc Emilie Gamelin [Berri Square] will remain our headquarters, but the park is getting small,” Pineault says.
Turner adds that Canada Pride is not just about boosting tourism. “We will showcase our achievements, but also draw national and international attention to our ongoing struggles. There is still much more work left to do.”