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Vancouver to host BC Prides Summit

"It's simply about sharing resources," Coolen says

For the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS), now in its fourth decade of organizing the community’s annual parade and celebrations, the logical next step is to mentor smaller Pride societies from around the province.

This March, the VPS will host its first-ever BC Prides Summit, bringing together representatives from a dozen BC groups, as well as five from Alberta and Washington.

VPS president Ken Coolen says the event is part of a drive to maintain grassroots links with smaller organizations. “We thought: how can we get all these Prides together and connect them and help them feel supported by Vancouver Pride?”

Workshops will focus on fundraising, insurance, volunteers, entertainment, archiving and human rights issues.

The discussions are meant to provide practical advice about event planning and help regional groups tackle specific challenges such as funding and attendance.

“We see ourselves as the ‘mother ship’ of BC,” Coolen says, but stresses that VPS “won’t be sticking our noses into anywhere people don’t want it.”

“It’s simply about sharing resources – how have you guys done it?” he adds.

The society is offering complimentary attendance for one delegate from each BC Pride organization. Registration for each additional participant is $168.

The Prince George Pride Society, which expects about 500 participants at its 15th annual parade, will send two representatives.

“Instead of reinventing the wheel, learning from some of the bigger Pride organizations will help us get a better grip on challenges such as funding, how we raise money and volunteer recruitment,” says Prince George Pride’s president Valentine Crawford.

Dustyn Baulkham, chair of Okanagan Pride, also believes the event will be a unique chance for regional groups to meet.

“It can be difficult to get to each other’s Prides, so it’s great that the rest of us can get together at one central point,” he says.