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Moncton Pride celebrations kick off in shadow of Policy 713 controversy – New Brunswick |

The theme of this year’s River of Pride Festival is “This is me,” which organizers say is more important than ever for New Brunswick’s LGBTQ2 community.

“It’s always fun to celebrate and be joyful and celebrate who you are and with everything that’s going on right now, it’s even more important to celebrate and show our true colours,” River of Pride spokesperson Félix St-Onge said at a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall on Friday.

He said taking pride in identity is important as the controversy surrounding the changes to Policy 713 rages on.

Changes to the policy require all students under 16 to have parental permission to change their name and pronouns, as they are used in the classroom, if the change is related to their gender identity.

The changes have sparked criticism from the LGBTQ2 community, advocacy groups, educators, and the Child and Youth Advocate.

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St-Onge, a teacher himself, said it’s still not clear what the protocol will be for students when school starts in September.

He will take over as president for River of Pride in 2024, and said their goal is to offer more family activities.

“We do have activities for the families but we want to have more activities for them,” he said.

“We want to do more (awareness work) and workshops, things like that.”

Drag performer Kessa Lulle said Pride celebrations are needed to shine a light during a difficult time for the community.

They said growing up as a two-spirit Mi’gmaw person in Moncton wasn’t easy, and the Policy 713 controversy stirs up uncomfortable feelings.

“It’s rough. From personal experience, being First Nations in Moncton itself is already a bit of a challenge and then having another facet added on to that…It’s bearable but it really just drains the light out of you,” they said.

“That’s what Pride’s for, it’s to stop hiding parts of yourself that others would try to shame you for,” they said.

River of Pride continues until Sept. 3rd, with a Pride parade taking place on Main Street on Sept. 2nd.

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