A large crowd gathered on June 11 to launch Pride Week in the Town of Amherst.
Manson Gloade, a First Nations member, noted the ceremony was taking place on Mi'kmaw and Maliseet territory. He reminded those present that those two First Nations welcomed the early settlers to the area. He then welcomed everyone to the ceremony. He called on the Creator to bless the event and asked the Creator to support the "idea of diversity" and to help people "keep an open mind."
Warden Allison Gillis welcomed the participants on behalf of the Municipality of the County of Cumberland and announced that for the first time the Pride Flag was flying in front of the municipal buildings in Upper Nappan. He promised the flag would fly each year during Pride Week.
Mayor David Kogon said it was an honour to be present to help raise the Rainbow flag in honour of the LGBTQ community. He thanked the organizers and their supporters for hosting the event. Noting it was the 9th year for the event, Kogon said it was important to recognize the LGBTQ community for its contributions to the town, the province, the country and the world. He then read a proclamation declaring June 11-16 Pride Week in the Town of Amherst.
SOAR Community Health Board member Bill Schurman and Amherst Youth Town Council Junior Mayor Rohin McKenney brought greetings on behalf of their organizations and spoke on the importance of accepting all persons in an inclusive, diverse society.
Mason Carter, who identifies as queer, presented a powerful speech providing an insight into growing up as a queer-trans male. "My life is consumed by of thoughts of how to protect myself and that eats away the person. I love myself. Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't change a thing about who I am. But it gets hard, When this is your day-to-day life going to school and wondering how exactly am I going top make sure I don't get assaulted in the bathroom or the hallway. You really don't want to go to school. But see, no matter how bad things get, no matter how much you want to quit or throw in the towel, there is always someone there to help you. Help can be found in strange places, like your emotionless best friend or a teacher who has never openly said that she cares, but you know, deep down, that she'd be there to fight for you. With help comes happiness. And as my favourite book series says, 'Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the lights.' "
Gerald Veldhoven paid tribute to the late Dr. Eldon Hay, an Order of Canada recipient who had an overwhelming passion for equal rights, not only for the LGBTQ community, but for all of humanity. This passion earned him the "respect and love of so many," Veldhoven said. "I know I speak on behalf of the LGBTQ community who want to acknowledge their appreciation for his work in our community and his activism in human rights."
Cumberland Pride's Emma Brown paid tribute to the late Asher MacDonald, a trans-male who was a longtime volunteer with Halifax Pride and a kind, generous person who was "always willing to help and reach out to other people."
The event ended with the raising of the Pride flag by Cumberland Pride's Rogan Porter, Const. Michelle Harrison, Amherst Mayor David Kogon and Cumberland County Warden Allison Gillis.