This Saturday the very first Six Nations Pride Parade will be taking place at Veteran’s Park. The event is organized to offer the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer (LGBTQ) Community of Six Nations a welcoming place to celebrate their identity – and an opportunity to express inclusion and friendship with supporters.
Six Nations woman Myka Burning, one of the organizers of the event said it arose from a teachable moment with one of her children. “My daughter and I were talking about The LGBTQ community; how they have been hurt and killed and oppressed for a long time because of who they are. This lead into a conversation about Pride Marches and what they are about.”
It was then the child asked her mother if there were “gay indians”. Burning said, “I said, ‘of course!’ and she said ‘why don’t we have a pride parade on the reserve to show Indians we care about them!’ and voila — the seed was planted and we just put it out there to see if the community was interested. And boy were they!”
Burning, along with a number of other community members then took to social media, creating a group on Facebook to organize the event and garner support for it. The response was overwhelmingly positive and so far the event is shaping up to be a positive space for all to celebrate inclusion on Six Nations of the Grand River.
Burning said, “We’re gathering at 11. We’ll do an opening. Have some people speak on their experiences being gay and aboriginal on and off reserve. A mother’s perspective. A march down Chiefswood and the trail, then back to Veterans Park. There will be drummers/ singers, some booths set up and dancers.”
Supporters are set to arrive in Ohsweken this Saturday morning for the historic event. “One thing to note is the massive support we have gotten from outside communities. Hamilton specifically has been one of our biggest champions. Way more supportive than on reserve organizations so far. We have people coming from up north in the Sault, Kettle Point, Toronto, Niagara, Fort Erie, Port Colborne, London, and Peterborough. The general consensus is people have been dreaming about this and waiting for this.”
Burning says that the impression out there is that Six Nations is not a safe place for the LGBTQ community. “There are a lot of people who are nonjudgmental and supportive but there are people still being targeted and harassed and assaulted; physical, sexually and socially.”
“People are still having to leave our community to find support and safety,” said Burning. “Our younger generations are committing suicide because of the stigma on reserve about being Indian and being gay. Even in the mainstream there are still barriers for people of colour in the LGBTQ community. They need to know there is support out there. They need to know they are welcome in their own territory. And that they see a support system that reflects who they are as indigenous people.”
Six Nations very first pride march will take place at 11am Saturday July 25th, 2015 at Veteran’s Park in Ohsweken.