Far-Flung Love! First Flin Flon Pride a Success
Above Image: Loreena Hrechka, a member of the Flin Flon Pride Committee, and her family.
15-year old Gee never thought that they would ever get the chance to celebrate Pride in their hometown of Flin Flon, MB.
“I always thought I’d have to go to a bigger city,” explains Gee, a self-identified queer youth.
This summer, Flin Flon showed that it could hold its own in love and inclusivity by holding its inaugural Pride weekend- and Gee could not be more proud.
“Having my first Pride in my hometown feels amazing!” says Gee.
Loreena Hrechka, one of the members of the Flin Flon Pride Committee could not agree more.
“I feel so proud to be a part of Flin Flon Pride!” says Hrechka, a straight ally. “It’s about time!”
The festivities included a flag-raising ceremony at city hall and a community barbecue on August 18, followed by the city’s first Pride parade and a community fair the next day.
The city of 5,200, located more than 600km northwest of Winnipeg, follows in the footsteps of other trailblazing communities in Manitoba that have held their first Pride events in recent years. They include Thompson in 2014, Brandon in 2015, and both Portage la Prairie and Steinbach in 2016.
Jordana Oulette, chair and founder of the Flin Flon Pride Committee, got the idea to bring Pride to her hometown after attending similar events in Saskatoon and recognizing the need to provide visibility and support to LGBT people in her community.
“I’ve grown up being part of the community and needing a resource, something to go to,” Oulette explains. After last year’s Orlando shootings that targeted an LGBT nightclub, she held a vigil for the victims. “I had 75 people turn out here and I thought, ‘Flin Flon is ready for Pride.’”
After assembling a working group and after several months of hard work and dedication, the Flin Flon Pride Committee members were themselves ready to bring Pride to their community.
The effects of Pride have been overwhelmingly positive says Loreena Hrechka. Around 250 people alone attended the flag-raising ceremony, including the mayors of Flin Flon and Creighton, Sask.
Hrechka joined the committee because of her ties to Oulette, a long-time best friend. She says that seeing how much Oulette herself has grown in her journey to self-acceptance has been personally rewarding.
“It’s humbling to be her friend and to see how far she’s come,” says Hrechka. However, she notes that there are still many without support. “There are still so many people who are scared to come out and families that abandon people.”
Smaller, rural communities often lack the resources of larger centers, making it difficult for LGBT people to access advocacy and support. Moose Jaw Pride is proud to support the efforts of Flin Flon and other smaller communities in their work to bring LGBT events, resources and training to those who need it most.
Gee was especially moved by the outpouring of love from their hometown. “Pride means quite a lot to me!” they gush. “You feel welcome and it’s a good feeling.”
Jordana Oulette is already excited about plans for Flin Flon’s next Pride. “I just hope that it keeps getting bigger. My dream is that it’s going to be a full week!”
Andy Richard, a transgender queer youth on the committee, hopes that Flin Flon Pride will inspire other smaller communities to organize their own events. He encourages anyone who thinks that their community is too small or too remote to have their own Pride to find supporters and allies and to work together to make it happen.
“You can do it no matter what- we never thought this would be possible for Flin Flon and here we are today!” Richard explains.