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New Pride Committee; a few old faces return to the fray

Interim committee members transfer to new board

DEJA VU. Some old faces are back at Pride. Credit: (Erik Faure)

Hoping to keep the momentum moving forward, a new 10-member Pride Committee Of Ottawa was elected during a special meeting on Jan 26.

Shown in the photo to the right are some familiar faces from thje past. From left to right, former Pride chair Cecil Turcotte, Lee Callan, former and current Pride chair Marion Steele, Darren Fisher, Jon Pollock and Monique L’Heureux.

The general election was required before the 90-day term of the interim Pride committee, appointed during the annual general meeting (AGM) in October, expired last month.

The interim committee – which had been running the festival’s day-to-day operations since late October – was given a mandate by festival membership to develop a financial plan to deal with its six-figure debt, as well to improve its corporate structure.

The newly-elected committee includes Lee Callan, Darren Fisher, Bill Hawkes, Monique L’Heureux, Marc Lefevbre, Jon Pollock, Tamara Stammis, Marion Steele, Shaleena Theophilus and Cecil Turcotte.

Of the new committee, only Stammis, Lefevbre and Hawkes did not serve on the interim board. Theophilus had been appointed to the interim board after Jan Hobbs stepped down.

Committee members later chose from within their own ranks a new executive board, electing Steele as chair, Fisher as vice-chair, Callan as secretary and L’Heureux as treasurer.

Energized and enthused throughout the three-hour meeting, committee members pledged to not only find creative, new ways to chip away at the festival’s six-figure debt, but also to increase membership and its profile within the community.

As well, members discussed the need to scale back the festival to a more manageable size, while at the same time creating its own, distinguished place among the country’s Pride festivals.

“What we need to realize is that Ottawa is not Montreal, and Ottawa is not Toronto. I think having that realization will help us move forward,” says L’Heureux. “This city deserves to have a great Pride festival…. Our festival is going to be different. ”

In an attempt to address many of the organization’s long-standing structural problems, the interim committee tabled a revamped version of the bylaws at last month’s meeting. The changes include permanently increasing the size of the committee from five members to 10, and increasing terms of service from one year to two.

“The festival was bigger than the structure to support it,” says vice-chair Fisher, who adds that the interim committee modeled the festival’s new bylaws after “very sound, very successful non-profit organizations,” including the AIDS Committee Of Toronto.

The bylaw changes were “accepted in principle” by festival membership. A vote on adopting them permanently will be held at Pride’s next AGM. But a special meeting will be held within 90 days of last month’s meeting to allow a public consultation regarding the proposed changes.

As interim treasurer, L’Heureux did not release any new numbers with last month’s financial report, although she says the committee’s deficit “may be higher than originally reported” due to debt that has been carried over from previous festivals. Pride previously had reported a $121,000 shortfall.