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Ottawa Pride saved from untimely demise

Not-for-profit fronts $20,000 for struggling Pride fest

A unifying moment for Ottawa’s queer community occurred today when it was announced that Capital Xtra — under the paper’s parent company Pink Triangle Press — will be providing the emergency funding of $20,000 to the Pride Committee Of Ottawa-Gatineau. Representatives from both organizations shook hands at the Human Rights Memorial, just in front of city hall, during the announcement.

The 2006 Pride festival will be renamed Capital Pride, not inspired from the paper’s name, but rather from the festival?s focus on queers in the nation’s capital for 20 years and counting.

Chair of the Pride Committee Of Ottawa-Gatineau, Darren Fisher, and Capital Xtra’s associate publisher, Gareth Kirkby, spoke of the importance of having a Pride Week festival in the capital when the city itself did not support the festival.

The city’s mayor and its suburban and rural city councillors voted against a request for emergency funding from the Pride committee last week. It was the first time that the Pride Committee applied to the emergency fund, requesting $20,000. Other festivals that have asked for emergency funding this year, including the Franco-Ontarien ($75,000) and the Tulip festival ($50,000), received the money.

The Pride festival includes a parade that literally saves lives, Kirkby told reporters, adding that only a few festivals have been able to do that.

Asked whether the paper has gone from being a reporter to a caped crusader, Kirkby said the paper is one entity that has decided to step to the plate in order to make this festival successful. The queer community is encouraged to support the festival by attending the various events that will be organized by the Pride Committee such as paying the gate fee and buying beer at the designated drinking area. The amount generated from this year will determine the survival of next year’s festival.

The risk of losing this year’s festival has sparked renewed queer awareness in the capital. The struggle to save the local festival has taken place amidst the debates that affect the whole country, such as the current federal government’s promise to reopen Bill C-38: The Marriage Act that allows same-sex couples to marry.

Capital Xtra today received its first donation toward Pride from an unknown contributor. When she handed over the $20 bill early this morning, two hours after she first heard the news in a radio interview, she said she believes that Pride is a worthy cause. Those who wish to donate can do so by checking out the Pride Committee’s website (www.Prideottawa.com)

“The festival is fairly back on track with the cash flow,” says Fisher. “But if you want it big, you need to get involved…. Together we will make it happen.”