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Northern Ont.’s largest pride march


Rainbow flags flew proudly in North Bay Saturday as the city kicked off the largest pride march in northern Ontario.

Rainbow flags flew proudly in North Bay Saturday as the city kicked off the largest pride march in northern Ontario. (Ian Campbell/CTV News Northern Ontario)The city is marking its annual pride week and the pride march drew out big names from across the region and beyond.

Attendees told CTV News pride week is a time set aside for love and celebrating one’s authentic self.

Dixie is a drag queen from Lavigne, Ont., in the West Nipissing area, who made their way to North Bay for the pride march dressed in an original creation.

“The dress I decided to make, it was a wedding dress so a celebration and I took all of the hateful words, faggot, queer, all those hateful things and put them on this dress and make them good,” said Dixie.

“You know what I’m going to take the hate, I’m going to own it, I’m going to make something beautiful, I’m going to say this me and damn well look good doing it.”

Mayor Chirico marched in the parade through downtown ending at the city waterfront and was met with positive feedback from those in attendance – with most in the area taking pride in how their community has evolved to be an inclusive one.

“It’s about celebrating our differences and bringing everyone together because when we celebrate our differences - we can build so much more,” said Nipissing MP and Speaker of the House Anthony Rota.

The costumes were colourful, the music loud – there was dancing, flag waving and plenty of smiles in the crowd as the march paraded through the city.

“This makes me proud, it makes me feel like the community is truly a community,” said Robert Saliba, the district’s LCBO manager.

Many more dignitaries from throughout the north and the province were on hand including Sudbury MPP Jamie West.

“It’s important to stand up for all our citizens,” East Ferris Mayor Pauline Rochefort.

Organizers said this is about promoting love and acceptance while taking a stand against some of the hate that has popped up against the 2SLGBTQ+ community – and having a little fun while doing it.

“When I was younger, like 10 years ago, there was nothing here – I didn’t even know to be honest what a lesbian was,” said Alysha Fournier, a member of the North Bay Pride organization.

“I think not only is there a huge sense of pride but a huge sense of finally feeling like I have a community.”

In addition to political dignitaries, educators, members of the United Church and armed service men and women from the local air force base were also in full attendance – with one of the biggest turnouts coming from organized labour.

Ontario CUPE president Fred Hahn made their way to the event on Saturday.

“It serves like a beacon - not only for the people in this community but frankly for small and northern communities all across the province to show that our communities are welcoming,” said Hahn.

Billie Bridgewater with the Ontario Public Service Employee Union said that the focus needs to be on positivity.

“There has been too much focus on hate, we cannot focus on the hate,” she said.

“We need to focus on the love, the positivity, the diversity and the inclusion.”

Organizers told CTV News they will continue to celebrate love and hold the feeling with spread across the city, the region and beyond.

For a full schedule of events, visit North Bay Pride’s website Top Stories

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