VANCOUVER - CUPE BC was proud to join with CUPE members from throughout the Lower Mainland to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Pride in Vancouver. On Sunday August 4 the annual parade attracted tens of thousands of spectators and did not disappoint with fabulous floats, dancers and marchers.
Jeffrey Cramer, a Local 1004 member, led the CUPE contingent, carrying our giant rainbow flag. “CUPE has participated in the Pride parade since 2003, when it was still more of a LGBT/human rights protest,” he said. “I’m proud to walk with CUPE today, continuing that tradition of solidarity.”
“It’s so important to be here, celebrating diversity with my sisters and brothers!” said CUPE BC President Mark Hancock, echoing the day’s exuberant spirit. “CUPE has been steadfast in promoting equal rights for all and that’s something we’re really proud of. Whether it’s at home, in the workplace or in the community, CUPE is dedicated to promoting an inclusive atmosphere.”
Secretary Treasurer Paul Faoro agreed: “It is great to see the massive attendance. Our float is a collective effort, with locals coming together for a common cause.”
The float was originally an initiative of Local 116, from the University of British Columbia, but in recent years the parade has grown and this year the local partnered with CUPE BC. Pride parade Float Captain Barry Jones, Vice President at Large for Local 116, explained: “Our local supports many community events, and last year was the first year we organized a float ourselves. It was a great success, so this year we decided to step it up and ask the Division to join us.”
The Pride parade is an important way to publicize CUPE’s great work for LGBT rights in the workplace and in the community. The CUPE float had a giant rainbow and dancers, and many generous giveaways: CUPE Pride tank tops, Frisbees, footballs, yo-yos, fans, stickers, pins, and of course, multi-coloured Pride beads. This year’s addition of water guns was particularly popular in the scorching heat.
But for many, it was a time to remember that not everyone is lucky enough to live in such an accepting society. As Kathy McMahon, from CUPE BC’s Pink Triangle Working Group pointed out, “I’m thinking today about the boycott against the Russian Olympics [anti-gay laws recently passed in Russia are fuelling talks of a boycott of the Sochi Olympics in 2014]. I will be marching in solidarity with our sisters and brothers there – sometimes I feel like we’re going backwards instead of forwards.”
Dal Benning, CUPE BC General Vice President, agreed. “With the situation in Russia right now, it’s important to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters, no matter what their orientation. All communities need to stand up and have a united front, demanding equality for all,” he said.
CUPE members also joined Pride celebrations this summer in Prince George, Surrey and Victoria, with others to be held in New Westminster and the Okanagan.
See CUPE BC Photo Gallery here…
Additional photos from Michael Lanier, Regional Vice President for Metro Vancouver, can be found here…