'Burnaby needs to move forward': City's long-awaited first Pride event comes this weekend

Saturday street party welcomes all members of the community

Burnaby is lagging far behind surrounding communities, when it comes to celebrating the LGBTQ community. 

New Westminster, Vancouver, Surrey and many others have hosted annual Pride events for years, but as Burnaby prepares for its first-ever Pride Street Party this Saturday, organizers aren’t looking backwards.

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“It is something that Burnaby needs to move forward on,” says Kimberly Barwich, program director at South Burnaby Neighbourhood House.

Barwich is among a group of locals who have spearheaded the event that will fill the block of Jubilee Avenue between Imperial Street and Nelson Avenue from noon to 4 p.m. 

The party will include drag performances, music, spoken-word poetry, food and stalls from a variety of local organizations.

Performers include Indigenous dancer Shyama-Priya, dancer Ralph Escamillan, singer Stephen Scaccia and spoken word artists Jillian Christmas and Johnny D Trinh.

“We’re going to have a lot of fun,” Barwich said.  

The event will send a strong message to the community that everyone belongs here, Barwich said.

“I think that when you are looking at any smaller community – whether those are immigrants or folks are part of, say, the LGBTQ community – I think that we have to work pretty hard to make sure that those groups of folks are included. So it takes additional effort to make sure everybody is at the table.”

No matter your sexual orientation or gender identity, you’re welcome at Saturday’s street party, Barwich said. 

“I don’t celebrate Diwali, but do I go to celebrations that are on the street that celebrate that? Absolutely, to learn a bit more about that community, to celebrate together,” Barwich said.

Fellow organizer Evelyn McGowan from the Burnaby Youth Hub had this to say about the event:

“Pride is a powerful opportunity to bring visibility, compassion and a greater understanding of LGBTQ2S+ identities to all community members in Burnaby. It’s a chance to celebrate the vibrancy and diversity of the LGBTQ2S+ community, while acknowledging the deep history of the fight for equity and justice for all gender identities and sexual orientations.

“And there’s glitter.”

For all the details about the Pride Street Party, see www.burnabypride.com.

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