If you’re keen to spread a little extra joy and happiness this weekend, the Ste. Agathe Pride Parade may be just the ticket. On May 29, at 2:00 p.m., residents and visitors alike will gather to participate in the community’s third annual Pride event.
The parade route will begin on Pembina Trail, just north of Gratton Street, and head southward to Bel-Ami Drive. From there it will wind its way back to the starting point via Pembina Trail and Lemoine Street.
Festivities will continue all afternoon at Lucky Luc’s Bar & Grill.
As is common at Pride parades, the attendees are the attraction. Paradegoers are encouraged to flaunt Pride colours either on their person or their wheeled vehicle of choice: skateboards, tractors, and everything in between.
Ste. Agathe residents Ember Klaasen and their mother are the inspiration behind the community’s Pride event. It was founded on the premise of shining a little light and hope into the dark and fearful time of pandemic uncertainty.
“In 2020, the starting year of this parade, I faced a lot of bad news and negativity, as I’m sure we all did,” Klaasen says. “I kind of felt like the air was getting heavy and it was making it hard to breathe. So one day my mother and I were discussing how Winnipeg Pride had been cancelled and we decided, ‘You know what? Let’s make our own.’ So we did.”
From the start, Klaasen says the event has been a success. Each year has seen upwards of 30 decorated vehicles joining in the parade. This year, the local chapter of Dykes on Bikes, a lesbian motorcycle club, will make another appearance. And if things go as expected, there’ll be some floats as well.
Reception to the event itself has been outstanding, she adds, from the residents of this small Francophone community to the larger municipality. Last year, for the first time, the RM of Ritchot raised a rainbow flag for the entire month of June thanks to Klaasen’s efforts to raise awareness and honour the diversity within their own communities.
“If you have ever been to a Pride parade, you know just how much joy is there,” says Klaasen. “It always feels as though not one single person knows how to do anything except smile and have fun.”
Klaasen feels that part of the success of a small-town Pride event is the sense of safety a smaller crowd can provide.
“If there are any people who are shy or nervous or scared, they can come to this parade and get a glimpse of what Pride can actually be,” says Klaasen. “I have had a few people tell me that they loved Ste. Agathe Pride because of how small it is compared to Winnipeg Pride… Large crowds tend to overwhelm them, and this was the perfect way to support their community and not feel overwhelmed.”
Parade entrants are encouraged to arrive a bit early and use the service road next to the fire hall. They can fall in line somewhere behind the parade’s lead vehicle, a local fire truck.
Brenda Sawatzky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Niverville Citizen