Used Ottawa and the AIDS Committee of Ottawa (ACO) are rallying the community to help save Capital Pride’s property from the landfill.
Angus MacIsaac, community co-ordinator for usedottawa.com, was startled when he learned at a public meeting on Jan 20 that due to an unpaid bill at a storage locker, the fate of Capital Pride property, including the Pride flag, did not look good.
With Capital Pride’s bankruptcy, and no official Pride organization yet in place, Used Ottawa and the ACO forged a partnership to help community members pay Capital Pride’s storage locker fees.
“It kind of touched our hearts a little bit and that’s why we thought we’d like to see what we could do to support the community to make sure these items don’t go to a landfill,” MacIsaac says. “They’re 30 years of our archived material and memories. The sheer importance of them, especially the flag itself, is something that volunteers have worked their butts off to provide for us.”
Using the #UsedHelps program, community members can place a free online ad for an item they want to sell. By adding the hashtags #ACO and #UsedHasPride, the proceeds for that item will help to pay off Capital Pride’s $897.95 storage locker fees. Used Ottawa will match all funds raised for #UsedHasPride, up to $450. If you don’t have anything to sell, but would like to contribute, you can drop off cash donations at the After Stonewall gallery.
“From Used Ottawa’s standpoint it hasn’t been about the money because we could’ve just written a cheque for the $900, but we really need to draw awareness to the fact that this stuff could have been lost,” MacIsaac says. “We also want everybody to be able to have a part in saving these items because they do have such a strong sentimental attachment. For us, it was more about rallying the troops and getting everybody working together for the common good, which is to ensure that our archives are safe.”
In addition to the Pride flag, he says the items in storage include boxes of news clippings, photographs, videos and minutes and records from previous boards.
With Capital Pride’s storage locker account in arrears, storage company A1 Mini Storage was under no obligation to keep the items, but the company has been patient and accommodating, MacIsaac says.
“The items could have been discarded at any point in time, but A1 Mini Storage kind of understood the importance of them and it was just waiting to see what would happen,” he says.
A1 Mini Storage has even agreed to keep the items once the outstanding bill is paid without charging further fees, MacIsaac says. When a new Pride organization is officially in place, the storage company will present them with the contents of the locker, he says.
While MacIsaac says taking part in community initiatives is a good fit for Used Ottawa, saving Capital Pride’s flag and archival property is also important to him on a personal level. Before moving to Ottawa 19 years ago, he lived in a small town that didn’t have a Pride festival, so Capital Pride has meant a lot to him, he says.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for Capital Pride. We all know the politics that kind of come of it each and every year with each and every new board, but at the end of the day, especially last year, you had [110,000] people coming together. In Ottawa, it’s hard to get 10 people to come to brunch, let alone [110,000] to celebrate Pride.”
MacIsaac stresses that the effort to save the storage items is not affiliated with the past or any future Pride organization. Still, whatever the future holds for Pride, surely it must include the flag and archival items, he says.
“These are our memories,” MacIsaac says.