It was a more subdued Pride parade than you would see in larger cities, but for those taking part it was no less significant.
On Saturday people in the Cowichan Valley held their first Pride parade in ten years, and for a number of those involved it was their first.
“I’m really nervous and excited,” said Kalenna Milbury, an organizer.
“This is my first Pride event after I’ve come out and it just warms my heart seeing how many people are here. I didn’t expect so many people here.”
A counsellor with Cowichan Valley Youth Services says she helped support a group of young people who spearheaded the parade and she says having events like this are critical for those in the LGBTQ+ community.
“Seeing the youth and how un-apologetically themselves they are, and then acknowledging the youth that aren’t out to their families or aren’t out in the community cause they don’t feel safe and supported to be who they are or love who they love,” said Sophia Palmer.
“It’s so important to be visible and say you have a right… to thrive and be yourself and be honoured and loved for who that is.”
It’s a feeling echoed by some teens who say growing up in the Cowichan Valley in the LGBTQ+ community can be difficult.
“In this area at least we have to stay closeted because there is a sense of danger for us and the possibility of us getting hurt for our identities but having this one moment where we can be together and realize there are more like us in this area it builds safety and companionship,” said Cade Whelan, an organizer.
Several politicians also took part. A Duncan city councillor was among those glad to see the parade’s return with even more people in it.
“We have to be tolerant. It’s time for us to accept people for what they are. Love is the way,” said Tom Duncan.
Organizers say they’re not sure why it took ten years for a second Pride parade to happen but now they’re hoping it becomes an annual event.