Pride Week is a 10-day event held during the end of June each year. It is a celebration of the diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and questioning (LGBTIQ) community. It started out as a small protest march in the early 1970s. Today, the pride march is one of the largest organized gay pride events in the world that draws in nearly one million people every year.
For the most part, the Canadian labour movement has been at the forefront of the struggle for LGBTIQ rights. Canada’s unions have fought for inclusive language in collective agreements in diverse workplaces across the country to promote equality and protect and empower workers. And some of the very first legislation in Canada around same-sex benefits was enacted, thanks in part to organized labour’s support and advocacy. But the engagement of unions in LGBTIQ history is uneven. While some unions took up the demands of LGBTIQ workers, others ignored the call for solidarity and kept a long distance from organizing for safety, dignity and pride of their LGBTIQ members. And while some unions have ‘caught up’ in recent years, by devoting resources and energy to LGBTIQ issues, still others haven’t.
In May 2008, Pride at Work Canada was formed by a group of dedicated individuals with a vision – to improve the climate of inclusiveness for LGBTIQ employees in the workplace. Its vision is for Canada to be a nation where LGBTIQ individuals can achieve their full potential at work. Its mandate is to promote inclusion, encouraging organizations to support authenticity at a corporate level and create workplaces where LGBTIQ employees will be able to be themselves and, ultimately, to be more productive.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised the rainbow Pride flag on Parliament Hill to mark the beginning of Pride season. This marked the first time a Pride flag has ever been officially raised on Parliament Hill, an important sign of the progress the LGBTIQ community has made in this country. This followed the introduction of Bill C-16 which will amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to ban discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression.
The goal is to create a world, without homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and all other forms of oppression so that every person can achieve their full potential, free from discrimination and bias.
Happy Pride Week!
By: Mark Klein