After eight months of heated debate over Toronto’s Pride parade, a group of Torontonians is now asking for donations to throw its own parade — one that would include the police and take place on the same day as Toronto Pride 2017.
Billed as the Unity and Inclusion parade, the organizers intend it to be an alternative to Toronto’s Pride parade, which recently decided not to let uniformed police officers march in this year’s event.
The organizers — Bryn Hendricks, Colton Evans, Adrian Cornelissen and Christopher Thorn — sent out a fundraising letter on March 15, 2017, asking for donations to help fund five complaints on behalf of Toronto police against Pride Toronto at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal as well as costs associated with the parade.
“Although we are not organizing an entire festival, organizing a parade also has financial costs including permits, applications and other printing and general expenses,” the letter reads.
The letter asks supporters to deposit donations to an RBC account or as an Interac e-transfer.
“Once the police and law enforcement are welcomed by Pride Toronto, any remaining funds will be donated to them,” it reads.
Unity and Inclusion Toronto declined to comment.
“We appreciate you reaching out to us, however at this time we are not prepared to make a statement,” Evans told Xtra by email.
Olivia Nuamah, the executive director of Pride Toronto, says that she recently met with two members of the organization and had a constructive conversation about police involvement in the parade.
“We think it’s important that as Pride Toronto we have dialogue with this group, and that we continue to work together to work through some of our issues,” she says.
Nuamah says they didn’t discuss the possibility of the group organizing a separate LGBT parade.
“They are members of the community who are able to organize what they would like,” she says.
The organizers object to a decision made by Pride Toronto’s membership to accept all of the demands made by Black Lives Matter Toronto during their sit-in during the 2016 parade.
“Pride Toronto indicates their mission, vision, and values are those of inclusion and that are meant to be welcoming and uniting of everyone,” the organizers’ letter reads. “Banning the Police is contrary to these values, and it remains our belief that Pride Toronto’s decision to accept the demands of Black Lives Matter is not acceptable.”
A Facebook event had been created for the Unity and Inclusion parade, with the date set for June 25, the same day as the Toronto Pride parade. The event was deleted on March 25.
“Unity & Inclusion Toronto invites you to celebrate with us and over 1 million people at this year’s Unity & Inclusion Parade on June 25, 2017,” read the event page. “Please join us for one of the world’s largest inclusive cultural events in the Canada and the world.”
While the group also called for the Toronto police to conduct a formal review “similar to the Truth & Reconciliation Commision [sic],” the brunt of their criticism has been aimed at Pride Toronto.
On March 15, the same date as stated on the fundraising letter, Unity and Inclusion Toronto protested outside of the Pride Toronto offices.
Both the letter and the Facebook page included a logo that includes a six-pronged symbol that is a copyright of Pride Toronto. The group’s logo has since been changed to a similar, but more distinct symbol.