Favourite Local Political Moment

Steinbach March for Equality

1. Steinbach March for Equality
2. Honourable mentions: Judy Klassen named as interim Liberal leader, Robert-Falcon Ouellette tweeting he was against pipelines, civilian oversight of police, coverage of U.S. election at local bars

 

Michelle McHale expected a few hundred people to show up when she organized the first-ever Pride event in Steinbach, Man. Instead, thousands took to the streets on July 9 as part of the March for Equality. 

“I think that amount of people anywhere would have been overwhelming for any organizer,” McHale says, “but that amount of people to have shown up in Steinbach, Man. for the reasons that they were – I think there was a feeling of anything is possible.”

She says planning for the event started in April, after she raised concerns about discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in local schools. 

“I was just so happy that whether people chose to come out and participate in that event or whether they didn’t, it was going to be in the news, and it was going to be very apparent to them that there was a lot of love and support,” she says. 

She notes former Steinbach residents came from across the country to attend the march. People from Winnipeg – where there have been annual Pride events since 1987 – also joined in.

“If there’s people who are being discriminated against somewhere that isn’t safe, people who do feel safe will rise up and come together to support people,” McHale says. “That’s a beautiful thing no matter how you look at it.”  

While the event marked a new chapter for the staunchly Mennonite city, there was still pushback. The march was originally denied street access. Conservative MP Ted Falk refused to take part, and Steinbach’s mayor and MLA both cited prior commitments as reasons for not attending. 

“There are rights that we’re fighting for here that are not present everywhere,” McHale says. “What we’d like to see is for the elected officials to show up … We need to see those folks show up, and we need to see them support all the constituents in their communities.”

The Steinbach Pride Facebook page will post updates about the next March for Equality, which is set for July 15, 2017.

Published in Volume 71, Number 13 of The Uniter (December 1, 2016)

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