Pride Reception Celebrates Community
As Pride festivities kick off across the city, the Chief and Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) hosted their annual Pride Reception.
For the first time in a decade the event was held outside a police facility, taking place at Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto.
“We want to continue to build a good, working relationship between the 2SLGBTQ+ community and the Toronto Police,” Reverend Deana Dudley, the acting Senior Pastor of the church, said of the event.
“We thought it would be great if the Chief’s Pride Reception could be back out in the community, and we have this fabulous social hall that’s a great place for events," said Dudley, who is a member of the Toronto Police 2SLGBTQ+ Community Consultative Committee.
TPSB Chair Ann Morgan said Pride is a celebration of love and our shared values.
“Pride Month is a significant, joyful and powerful event. It’s a celebration of love. Harmony, partnership, unity and it’s a celebration of acceptance of all people, and our paramount Canadian principles and commitment to democracy, equality, inclusivity and kindness.”
The reception is dedicated to representing the growing efforts to strengthen ties between the 2SLGBTQ+ and policing communities.
“It was incredibly important for us to bring our celebration back into the community where it belongs. It gave us an opportunity to be more inclusive by creating a safe space for our members and our communities,” Chief Demkiw said.
This year's event also served as a showcase for the brand new Progress Pride Flag-wrapped scout car, which will be a permanent fixture.
“Having a police vehicle wrapped in the Progress Pride Flag sends a strong message to all of our communities. It tells them that the Toronto Police Service supports 2SLGBTQ+ communities," the Chief said.
Each year two bursary winners for post-secondary education are awarded to youth within the 2SLGBTQ+ community, who created plans to champion change using their education and life experience to strengthen the community.
Gabriella, a 25-year-old nursing student at George Brown College, plans to champion change through her nursing education by advocating for pronoun use in healthcare, educating healthcare workers about 2SLGBTQ+ issues including gender identity, name changes and the unique needs of queer and trans folks.
“I was a little bit shy, this is the first time I’ve been around so many police officers but it’s nice to see the connection and I love the fact they’re showing support and showing up,” she said. “That means the world to me and it shows that we’re definitely progressing in the right direction.”
The other recipient, Brianna, is completing a BA in Interaction Design at Sheridan College, where she plans to use graphic design and media showing that representation of queer and trans folks as well as all of their intersections and identities should be represented at all times and not just during Pride Month.
The event concluded with dance performances from members of the Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance, before all attendees were encouraged to connect with one another over food, and to have a safe and happy Pride weekend.