Six Nations’ Ride for Pride is back for its second year and event organizers are excited to celebrate Pride while creating a safe space for two-spirit and LGBTQ+ individuals and allies.
“If you are an ally or part of the community feel free to join,” said Mike Hill, co-organizer for the Ride. “This is a space with no judgment — come out and have fun.”
The Ride is coming up this Sunday, June 27, and the goal is to promote healthy living while supporting two-spirit and LGBTQ+ visibility. Co-organizer Felecia White said you can drive, bike, walk, run, skateboard, or anything that gets you active. Four other members are helping organize the Ride — Jenyka Webster, Jess Hill, Remi Mari Sigel, and Tehakanere HennyJack.
“The Ride started as a very grassroots idea last year during lockdown,” said White. “Usually I had to go to Toronto to celebrate Pride because we don’t have anything on Six Nations. Being on lockdown, we couldn’t travel so I wanted to do a small bike ride around here. Mike asked if he could come too and share it on social media. Considering we only gave about 24 hours noticed we were really surprised how good of a turnout we had.” White said about 30 people came to last year’s Ride.
Hill said you do not have to register for the event.
“Come to Veteran’s Park for 2 p.m. where we start riding down to Oneida Business Park. Veteran’s Park to Oneida Business Park is 11 kilometres, but we do have a halfway mark at Emily C. General School which is around 5.5 kilometres.
“The idea is to bring your own equipment. Unfortunately, we don’t have extra equipment for everybody. If someone doesn’t have a bike you can still walk or run on the road because the roads will be shut down. You can also drive if mobility is an issue.”
Six Nations Fire and Emergency Services are going to have that part of the road shut down from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“We’ve also offered that if people don’t have bikes they are more than welcome to join as volunteers. We definitely need refreshment people and other helpers,” said White.
When it comes to celebrating Pride on Six Nations, both Hill and White said it’s important to create a safe space for everyone to feel included, validated and seen. It is encouraged to come wearing clothing that colourfully celebrates Pride, but if someone wants to attend the Ride yet isn’t quite ready to be seen, White said you can wear anything you like that helps you feel comfortable.
“I’ve had people come to me who are allies that want to participate, but don’t yet want the community to see them,” she said. “Not to say that Pride has a negative light, but there are people that still see it that way. I would suggest dressing up in as flamboyant colours as you’d like; show off your pride as much as possible. We are going to be accepting, we are going to be safe, but you don’t have to dress up in colours if you don’t want to.
“If someone wanted to be completely unidentifiable there are ways around it. There are rainbow masks you can get that cover your entire face and have holes for your eyes and mouth. You can wear sunglasses or a hat. If you want to just be a number you can just be a number. You don’t have to do or say anything. We are a very safe community. I don’t want anybody to feel uncomfortable just because the rest of the community on Six Nations may not be as progressive or accepting yet.”
Hill said events such as Ride for Pride are important because they raise visibility of those in the two-spirit and LGBTQ+ community. “It says that we’re here. We didn’t have events like this when I was growing up and I wish we had.”
For White, she says these types of events provide her with a sense of belonging.
“I had to go all the way to Toronto just to celebrate me. I would like youth here to not have to leave Six Nations just to celebrate Pride and themselves. I want them to feel that acceptance in their home community without having to hide or feel ashamed of who they are.”
“The community that came together from last year’s Ride for Pride was the first time I ever felt like I belonged to an LGBTQ+ group within Six Nations.”
The event is planned to go ahead rain or shine. The team is reminding participants to stay hydrated, stay safe, and have fun celebrating Pride and LGBTQ+ visibility on Six Nations. Share pictures and videos of your ride using #rideforpride.
Date: June 27, 2021
Where: Veteran’s Park to Oneida Business Park
When: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.