The Victoria Pride Festival is getting ready for another virtual celebration this year.
Due to the pandemic, the festival will once again look a lot different this year with all events taking place online, but organizers say the show must go on.
“Not everywhere can we enjoy pride, not everywhere can you celebrate so we need to celebrate,” said Pride Society vice president Britt Kohn.
To add to the festival, more voices will be heard this year as local organizations are brought into the spotlight and universities are getting involved.
“The virtual parade what we’re focusing on is organizations locally, people locally and businesses locally that cater and serve our queer, trans, black, Indigenous, people of colour year-round,” said Kohn. “Let’s celebrate, let’s amplify and highlight the voices of the amazing work that’s happening in this community and let’s come together and be kind and show love, show love for everyone.”
Royal Roads University is installing three rainbow crosswalks to celebrate pride and support students at nearby Royal Bay Secondary School.
“That’s just a really powerful symbol of our commitment to inclusion,” said University President, Philip Steenkamp.
“It’s so heartwarming to see this happen,” said Royal Bay grade 12 student Oskar Wood.
Back in May, Wood and his fellow students were devastated to find their newly installed rainbow crosswalk had been defaced with hateful, homophobic slurs.
“To see it vandalized was heartbreaking because it felt like a personal attack towards me,” said Wood who had spearheaded the crosswalk initiative.
The community, however, has been rallying around the students ever since.
“By being a part of something like this I’m pushing back on that kind of hate and trying to put out love instead,” said Royal Roads student Megan Maher.
Watching the high school students in action has become a source of inspiration, and hope, for Steenkamp himself.
“It took me until I was 38 to summon up the courage to come out, so seeing these high school kids here is so tremendously inspiring to me and so exciting,” he said. “We want to do everything we can to show them they are loved, they are cared for and supported.”
The university is also getting behind next week’s Victoria Pride Festival by raising a pride flag at Hatley Castle Friday morning.
The 2021 Victoria Pride Festival runs June 28 – July 4.
Event details can be found here.