Canada’s largest LGBTQ event agreed to major changes Sunday after the Black Lives Matter movement staged a sit-in during the annual parade.
Marchers sat down in the middle of the Pride Toronto parade route, halting the procession for about 30 minutes. It re-started when Pride Toronto’s director Mathieu Chantelois signed a document, agreeing to the demands from Black Lives Matter Toronto.
Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder Pascale Diverlus said the changes are necessary to make Pride more comfortable for diverse communities.
“It was not just black folk who saw a need for our demands,” she said in an interview with The Huffington Post Canada.
Members of the Black Lives Matters movement stage a sit-in at the annual Pride parade in Toronto on Sunday. (Photo: Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)
Pride Toronto agreed to exclude floats from police next year, and to hire more people from marginalized communities, including black trans women and Indigenous people.
Police officers don’t signal safety for many black queer and trans people, Diverlus explained. “Police are a group of people who have brought so much trauma and so much violence to our community.”
A member of the Black Lives Matters movement speaks to members as they stage a sit-in at the annual Pride Parade in Toronto on Sunday. (Photo: Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)
Pride will also create, re-instate, or increase funding for spaces for specific populations, like South Asian Canadians and black queer youth.
“Pride is for all of us,” Diverlus said. “When we have a celebration like Pride we need to make sure that everyone can come and feel comfortable.”
— Peter Kim (@PeterKimGlobal) July 3, 2016
Data has shown that black people in the Greater Toronto Area are up to three times more likely to be submitted to random street checks — or carded — than white people.
Despite leading the Toronto Pride parade this year as an honorary group, Black Lives Matter Toronto felt it was an opportunity to speak out for the "many black people in the city organizing with Pride who have felt really pushed out."
The changes will hopefully give many people of colour, particularly black trans women, some recognition for being instrumental in LGBTQ movements, said Diverlus.
A member of the Black Lives Matters movement speaks during a sit-in at the annual Pride parade in Toronto on Sunday. (Photo: Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)
In response to Sunday's demonstration, Pride Toronto organizers said they look forward to "continue the conversation," reported CBC News.
"We, like BLM-TO have a commitment to ensure our most marginalized communities feel safe and welcome at the festival," said Pride Toronto.
The protest came during the historic appearance of the first sitting Canadian prime minister to participate in the Pride parade. Justin Trudeau has marched in the event before, but not as PM.