Pride returned to Churchill Square in Edmonton this weekend with a diverse lineup of musical acts, comedy shows, drag performances and more.
It's been four years since the city has held any major Pride events following issues around diversity and the inclusion of police officers. In 2019 the Pride Festival was cancelled just 10 days before events were scheduled to begin.
Trevor Watson, executive producer of Edmonton PrideFest which is hosting the weekend event, said he was happy to see Pride return to its "home" in Churchill Square.
"Once we announced that Pride was coming back home to Churchill Square, I think it brought tears to a lot of people's eyes in the community," he said.
In light of concerns over diversity and inclusion in the local LGBTQ community, organizers issued a statement encouraging people to wear red to support queer and/or trans people who are also Black, Indigenous and/or people of colour (QTBIPOC).
PrideFest asked attendees to bring non-perishable food donations for Raricanow, an Edmonton non-profit dedicated to helping the QTBIPOC community.
After several years with no events, Watson said it was great to be back.
"We haven't had a big Pride celebration now for a number of years," he said. "So what's so exciting about today [is] this is the first pride for so many people."
Two young people experiencing their first Pride were teens Onyx Ellis and Phoenix Phillips.
Ellis said it was great to be in a positive environment where different sexual identities are respected and included.
That feeling was shared by another first time attendee.
Chloe Savard said it's important to have events like PrideFest where the LGBTQ community can come together and offer each other support and acceptance.
"I think it was just a part of finding a community and also feeling understood," Savard said. "So to just find people who are so open to just having conversations I don't feel like I have to explain myself all the time."
Savard's mother also attended the event on Saturday — a sign of support that meant a lot.
"I think that's what I appreciate the most is that even if she doesn't know, she's trying."
Plans for next year are already underway, and Watson has high hopes for Pride 2023.
"I don't want to announce that quite yet, but we are working on something that starts with the letter P that goes down the street, but I can't say what it is."