4th annual Muskoka Pride conference to focus on defining diversity

For the fourth year in a row, Muskoka Pride Community is hosting a conference looking at issues concerning the LGBTQ community of Muskoka.

The 4th annual Muskoka Pride Conference – Defining Diveristy – will be held on Thursday, November 3rd at the Residence Inn by Marriott in Gravenhurst. This year’s conference features 4 sessions related to the LGBTQ community.

For Heather Hay, Chairperson of Muskoka Pride, the conference represents how far the organization has grown. “Five years ago – in 2011 – we were still working to have the Rainbow Flag raised in Muskoka. At this year’s conference we have presenters from Toronto, Barrie, and Muskoka speaking on diverse topics.”

Hay stressed the importance of the conference for LGBTQ residents and tourists of Muskoka. “This conference is geared for health care providers, social workers, educators – people on the frontlines working with the public. We want their LGBTQ clients to feel welcomed, with inclusive language and informed professionals.”

This year’s keynote is being presented by Veronica Johnny, from Toronto. She will be sharing her personal journey as a Two Spirit (2S) identified person. Other sessions include: How to be an Ally, Politics and Human Rights, and Elder Abuse & LGBTQ Seniors.

Those interested in registering can go to the Muskoka Pride website (www.muskokapride.com) and register online. The cost is $30, which includes all workshops and lunch. Scholarships are also available, thanks to sponsorship from OPSEU Rainbow Alliance.

For further information about all Muskoka Pride events, go to our website or visit the Muskoka Pride Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/muskokapride)

Pride Week kicks off in Muskoka with flag raisings at town halls

Showing pride for inclusive community: Rainbow flags flying high across Muskoka

Published July 21, 3:30pm: For the first time, all local municipalities took part in raising the Pride flag today to kick off Pride Week in Muskoka.

Featured photo submitted by Shawn Forth: A first since Pride Week was celebrated in Muskoka: today the rainbow flag was affixed to the Township of Muskoka Lakes office with Council there to celebrate the event.

This morning, rainbow flags waved high over Huntsville, Bracebridge and Gravenhurst and similar flag raisings happened in Port Carling at the Township of Muskoka Lakes

office and at the Port Severn Municipal Office in Georgian Bay Township. The flag also went up at Lake of Bays Township.

Visit Muskoka Pride to learn about Pride events happening across our district this week.

The Muskoka Pride Committee is dedicated to promoting awareness and acceptance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) persons in Muskoka, and holds several events each year across the region. This year, the Muskoka Pride Committee be the host of the sixth annual Muskoka Pride Picnic on Sunday, July 27, 2014 at Annie Williams Memorial Park in Bracebridge from 12p.m. to 4pm and all are welcome to attend.

“The Town of Bracebridge supports the Muskoka Pride Committee’s annual event and its ongoing efforts to create a welcoming environment and building awareness and acceptance for the LGBT community in Bracebridge and Muskoka” said Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith at the flag raising at Bracebridge town office. “Everyone

is encouraged to show their support and attend the annual Muskoka Pride Picnic on July 27 at Annie Williams Memorial Park.”




Rainbow flag will be raised in Muskoka Lakes: Council approves Pride Muskoka ask for recognition

Rainbow flag will be up in Muskoka Lakes for Pride Week in Muskoka; flag to be affixed to Township offices in Port Carling

Published June 17, 2pm: The third time was the charm for Pride Muskoka: it has asked the Township of Muskoka Lakes for three years in a row to raise the rainbow flag to recognize Muskoka Pride Week, and this time, Council said yes.

Heather Hay, who asked Council officially for Pride Week recognition April 17,  was in North Bay today and couldn’t be there for today’s vote. Reached by phone afterward, she said she was very pleased to hear the news. Hay will follow up with Township Clerk Cheryl Mortimer to determine what type of wall mount fixture will be needed to raise the flag.

Featured pic: Flag raised in Gravenhurst on July 22, 2013. Photo by Norah Fountain

The flagpole at the Township offices in Port Carling is reportedly not built in a way that it can carry two flags (and some officials have said there is a Canadian flag protocol to consider), so Council was thinking about whether to install another pole, deny the request all together, agree to having Pride Muskoka pay and arrange for a temporary building mount fixture, or gather for a photo opportunity with the flag. Option 3, the temporary wall mounted flag, was agreed upon unanimously.

Just prior to the supporting vote, Councillor Ruth Nishikawa cautioned that approving the request could lead to more such asks for recognition.  “I don’t think we’ve ever excluded anyone in the community…and I have friends in Pride Muskoka,” said Nishikawa. “So that’s not the direction my comment is coming from; I’m not excluding anyone.” She continued, “We have many unique and special people in the community and it’s unfortunate we intend to do this – zero in on one particular group. I personally think we should be celebrating our disabled people much more than we do. Where does it stop?”

As a result of today’s decision, the rainbow flag is expected to fly proudly in Muskoka Lakes as well as Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Huntsville on July 21.