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'What a Decade It Has Been!'
Ottawa raises three Rainbows

Rainbow flag being raised at Regional Headquarters with Ministry of National Defence in background.
 
Regional Councillor Alex Munter (L) and Pride Committee Chair Cecil Turcotte (R) address the gathering.
 
(From left) Pride Committee Chair Cecil Turcotte, Second Vice-Chair Joanne Law, First Vice-Chair Jarmila Dokladalova, Regional Councillor Diane Holmes, Regional Chair Bob Chiarelli, and Regional Councillor Alex Munter.
 
Rainbow Flag flies high.
 
"FROM a 300-person protest march in 1986 to a street party to a small community gathering to a major festival in Canada's leading city of festivals."

So declared openly gay Ottawa-Carleton Regional Councillor Alex Munter as Ottawa-Hull's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Festival officially launched yesterday at 1 PM with the raising of the Rainbow flag at Regional Headquarters.

The flag created a trio with two others raised earlier at Ottawa City Hall and in the foyer of the Police Services Headquarters.  All three will remain in place during the entire Pride 2000 celebrations which continue until July 16th.

The 10-day festival is expected to attract over 40,000 participants to more than 50 scheduled events.  These include a boat cruise, a picnic, a brunch, a religious service, nightly bar specialties and a huge party tonight at the Lansdowne Park Colliseum which organizers believe will draw 2,700 people.  The Closing Gala on Saturday the 15th will take over a good portion of the Sparks Street Mall.

The Parade is set for Sunday and 60 entrants have registered.  The procession will make its way from Lansdowne Park right on up to Parliament Hill, making Ottawa-Hull the only Pride festival in the nation whose parade passes through the stomping grounds of federal law makers.

Continued Munter before the crowd of 80, "Ten years - even four years ago - it was a major struggle with local government ... that every year issues hundreds of proclamations ... [and] was resistant to the simple recognition and respect that comes from declaring Pride Day and Pride Week."

Ten years ago marked the first officially proclaimed Pride Day in Ottawa.

At the request of the Ottawa-Hull Pride Committee Prime Minister Jean Chretien issued his written regards and "warmest greetings to all those attending the 2000 Pride Festivals."  It's the third such statement since 1998.

Regional Chair Bob Chiarelli, who is running for Mayor of the soon-to-be created mega-city of Ottawa, also spoke at the flag raising, saying "If I am fortunate enough to be mayor of the new [mega] City of Ottawa I will certainly put a lot of emphasis on the inclusiveness requirement of [it]."

Earlier, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson - who will be in the parade - issued the final Pride proclamation on behalf of the existing City of Ottawa.

Pride Committee Chair Cecil Turcotte reflected on the symbolism offered by the multi-coloured Rainbow flag and how it reflects the diversity found both within the city and the LGBT community.

"One flag, representing a diverse and vibrant community, flies visible for everyone to see," he told the gathering.  "We have many things to celebrate.  As Ottawa becomes one, our community becomes one ... one under the same flag, marching together to the steps of Parliament.  Unity, diversity, visibility; our flag waves for us all."

Pride Committee First Vice-Chair Jarmila Dokladalova reminded the ceremony observers of the more serious aspect of Pride festivals.

In addition to celebrating, she said, "It is also important to understand why [we celebrate] and our history and our involvement in the social justice issues."

She concluded by underlining the global aspect of Pride.

"We are part of 12 to 15 million people world-wide who are joining hands in celebrating our history and our identity."

Further information on Ottawa-Hull Pride, and a full schedule of events, may be found at www.gaycanada.com/ottawa-pride.