WRRC has recently been approached by a few parties, most recently from triPride itself, asking our stance on whether or not there should be official police involvement at triPride. Through our various community conversations, membership in the Rainbow Community Council, and other efforts to actively engage with our local rainbow community, we understand how divisive this issue can be.
Like any grassroots organization in Waterloo Region, any statement we would provide on this matter would only reflect the diversity of opinion and life experience currently within our volunteer base. We make it a point to reach out to the wider community as much as possible, as we know our volunteers do not represent the community as a whole. Through these engagements, it is our firm belief that:
- there are indeed a multitude of opinions on this issue.
- there has not been an opportunity to have a forum (locally) for community members to discuss this issue. The individual members of our organization all have personal opinions and would be happy to share them at such a forum.
- the degree to which any community event is truly open and inclusive of the community as a whole, is directly related to the degree in which the community at large is engaged in its organization.
For full disclosure, the Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) has been actively participating in the Waterloo Region Rainbow Coalition since its founding. We also note that the WRPS is a founding member of the Rainbow Community Council and have been active at Pride celebrations for a number of years. That being said, recent data for the Outlook Survey suggests that many members of our community have concerns in regards to police interactions in our community. You can read more about the latter here.
WRRC has heard some in the community expressing views that those questioning police involvement in Pride are a small minority. We find such statements troubling. First, it is our experience that there are a number of individuals that would welcome a discussion on this matter. Second, such comments only serve to silence the voices of these members of our community by trivializing their concerns. Given our organization’s mandate, we find this troubling. We will not truly move forward as a rainbow community, if we are not open to both listening to and recognizing the experiences and needs of all.
WRRC feels that requests for our stance on whether or not police should be present at triPride ignores the real issue – which is how we can do a better job of both engaging our community as a whole in the creation of spaces in which all feel welcome. We firmly believe that the suite of events making up Pride celebrations are numerous enough to create spaces for everyone to feel welcome – including members of our community who have differing levels of comfort with police services. Unless we create spaces in which we can all gather, we will never have a chance to learn from one another and address community concerns. Neither the need for these conversations, nor the discussion of the appropriateness of police presence at events targeting the rainbow community, are issues limited to Pride celebrations.