Members of the Williams Lake Pride Society, the LGBTQ community and their supporters took part in the annual Stampede Parade in 2018 for the first time ever and plan to do the same this year. Photo submitted.

Williams Lake Pride Society planning wide range of summer activities

This includes Williams Lake’s first ever Pride in the Puddle this July

As Pride Month celebrations are prepared around the world the Williams Lake Pride Society is planning its own summer events.

The Williams Lake Pride Society is a recent addition to the wide range of social non-profits that operate in the Williams Lake area.

The society’s acting president, Brittany Cleminson, who also sits on the board as the treasurer, is excited for the wide range of events they have planned for the months of June and July. As acting president, it’s up to her to make sure all of these events run smoothly until the group’s next AGM.

Originally, Cleminson said the society was founded as the Williams Lake Pride Committee in November of 2017 to address the need for an organization to provide services designed to support the LGBTQ community, especially amongst the youth. Slowly but surely they gained more membership and community interest that eventually culminated in the installation of the rainbow crosswalk by the Central Cariboo Arts Centre.

“That’s kind of when things really got going, we had a really strong membership base at that point. We thought to ourselves that ‘if we are a society we could do more for the community.’ We could be eligible for more funding, we’d have a little more clout, so in October of 2018 we incorporated as a society and registered under the society act of B.C.,” Cleminson said.

Read More: Williams Lake gets a rainbow crosswalk

Over the winter, Cleminson and the board decided to focus their efforts on public outreach and information nights and start building relationships with other non-profits and SD27. Their biggest initiative up until now, Cleminson said, was CampOUT in the Cariboo in March for LGBTQ youth aged 12 to 17. This was the first ever LGBTQ youth camp in B.C. that was held north of Vancouver, Cleminson added with pride.

Support services for the LGBTQ community don’t really exist currently in Williams Lake and the Cariboo as a whole in the capacity that it needs to, Cleminson said, as with any form of health care in the region. One of the society’s main goals is ensuring these individuals receive the support they need while educating people about LGBTQ people to encourage understanding, acceptance and ultimately inclusivity. All of this, to Cleminson, is an important part of a happy and healthy community like Williams Lake.

First up on the event list will be a Pride Month themed coffee night for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at New World Cafe on June 22. Cleminson said they plan to have games, prizes and open dialogue about being a member of the LGBTQ community in Williams Lake.

They also plan to team up with community organizations like the Williams Lake Stampede and the Williams Lake Stampede Street Party which will both be events they’ll be attending. Last year they took part in the annual Stampede Parade and will be doing the same this year, something Cleminson said they are excited for because of the “come as you are theme” the parade boasts this year.

At the Stampede Street Party, they’ll be on hand offering rainbow face painting, makeovers and other activities that celebrate happiness, inclusivity and community connection, Cleminson said. At some point in June, they also plan to have an informal general meeting where people get together and play board games.

Perhaps the biggest plan they have in the works, however, is Williams Lake’s first ever Pride in the Puddle that will be held, not in June, but on the weekend of July 27. This event will consist of the first ever Williams Lake Pride Parade at 10 a.m. that will end with a pride party in Boitanio Park. The party will have vendors, activities, musicians for an “all around family fun event” Cleminson said.

She was also proud to announce that the Society has been invited back to Arts on the Fly Festival and was invited to the ArtsWells Festival for the first time this year.

As a registered non-profit, the Williams Lake Pride Society is consistently looking for new members to volunteer their time and ideas to the group. Cleminson encourages people interested in becoming involved to reach out to the society through the groups Facebook page Williams Lake Pride or at Volunteers are especially needed for the first ever Pride in the Puddle.

“I think that every June and July it’s important to celebrate A) where we are and B) to remember where we’ve come from and remember that (systemic discrimination) wasn’t so long ago, which I think is especially relevant in the modern political climate.”

Read More: Williams Lake rainbow crosswalk receives blessing at official opening

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