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Celebrate Pride of All Shapes, Sizes and Cultures in June

June is a month packed full of reasons to get together, reflect, celebrate, and protect each other. This June, we see the start of Indigenous History Month, LGBTQ2S+ Pride Month, and Fiesta Week right here in Oshawa. As our awareness of cultural intersection grows, we must remember that we can represent and revel in more than one thing at a time.

According to the City’s website, “‘Oshawa’ stems from an Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe language) word meaning “a crossing place” and has further translation as “the point at the crossing of the stream where the canoe was exchanged for the trail.” When the word Oshawa was chosen as the name of our City, it reflected and recognized the importance of water and land to our community. Our City’s name is a reminder of this important and powerful connection between people and place in the past but also of the present and for the future.”

National Indigenous History Month
Read on to learn more about National Indigenous History Month or by following the links in this blog.

This “crossing of the stream” imagery is more than bioregionalism; it is also a way forward. Pulling some thinking from Queer ecology, I agree that “Like the Zapatistas, I want to live in ‘a world where many worlds fit.’ Where the river meets the bank, or forest meets the meadow, or the sea the shore, there will be an abundance of life. The more that [this thinking], a many-branched river in our social ecosystem, mixes and mingles with swamp and stone, soil and soul, the more diverse forms of life will benefit.”

While June 21 is the official Indigenous People’s Day, it is important to remember, reflect, and do all we can to honour Indigenous cultures daily. Namely, there is much to familiarize ourselves about when it comes to the ongoing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Two-Spirit, and Gender Diverse Individuals (MMIWGS2+), the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action, and much more. It seems apt to recognize Indigenous people’s cultures, triumphs, challenges, and celebrations, as well as those of the LGBTQ2S+ communities. This month, I encourage us all to do both. It is in these intersections where more is possible.

On the heels of IDAHOBIT (the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia), which is observed annually on May 17, I would like to offer a bit of Canada’s Queer history. Some key dates include May 14, 1969, when Bill C-150 passed, decriminalizing homosexual acts in Canada; May 1995, when sexual orientation was included in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and June 2017, when Bill C-16 saw an update to the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code to include the terms gender identity and gender expression. It is important to see that LGBTQ2S+ rights are new to Canada and an ongoing, ever-developing movement. 

PRIDE Durham
Celebrate PRIDE in Durham this June.

This past weekend, on June 1, Oshawa Public Library McLaughlin Branch, at 65 Bagot Street (learn more about the Bagot Street name and the Indigenous peoples’ advocacy to update it here) hosted a Pride Month kick-off, including a Drag Queen story time. The next evening was the Pride Parade afterparty from 7-11 pm at Club 717, “the hottest LGBTQ2S+ social club in Durham Region for the past 35 years.” For more PRIDE programming, on June 26 from 7 to 8:30 p.m., the Delpark Homes Centre (1661 Harmony Road North) hosts an LGBTQ2S+ Fun Swim, including a universal change room. For even more Pride events in Durham, be sure to check out and support Pride Durham

Once you have gathered with the community and shown solidarity, perhaps it is time for date night or more hanging out. On June 5 from 5:30 to 8 p.m., Oshawa Tourism will host Boujee Bites, the second annual foodie’s delight! This exclusive event offers sample-sized treats from some of Oshawa’s most renowned restaurants. There will surely be sushi rolls, burgers, cauliflower bites, shawarma plates, and eggs benedict. If you are a DC grad, there is even more fun for you in-store. Feel free to see which culinary creatives will be featured at this super fun event at the Tourism Oshawa website. Return to the RMG on June 7 for a night of bubbles, cabaret, and LGBTQ2S+ pride at their Friday night backyard party from 7 to 10 p.m. Check out the RMG’s website for descriptions of all their Pride collaborators, including Performing Artists and Queer Activist Mikiki, drag performers Kali Kontour, Dank Sinatra, and El Experimento, and circus performer Jackie Houghton. Little ones ages 12 and up can also enjoy handcrafting Pride-themes polymer pins. 

Oshawa Fiesta Week
Head over to Memorial Park on Fathers Day (June 16) to kick off the 50th year of Oshawa Fiesta Week!

If all that wasn’t enough, Oshawa’s 50th annual Fiesta Week takes place from June 16 to 22, hosting over 11 pavilions representing different cultures that make Oshawa as diverse as it is. You can expect food, dancing, local artists' talents, and a community gathering joined by their appreciation of the differences that make us special. The week-long event, supported by The Oshawa Folk Arts Council (OFAC), is fun for the whole family and offers passports for only $10, while students and senior tickets cost $5 and children under 13 are free. OFAC is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting diversity in Oshawa. Let’s show our support!

Oshawa is more than Simcoe, Ritson and King. So many cultures come together to add to the richness of Oshawa. June is a time of gathering, reflecting, and pushing ourselves to understand the lived experiences of so many people. There is so much to know, see, do, taste, explore, and feel. Allow that feeling to move you. While this month is packed full of meaningful events, it is done in a way that is meant to bring togetherness and acceptance. If dandelions are symbols of freedom, I hope we float across events to gather as much momentum as possible towards Harmony, Capilano (from the Squamish Nation’s Kia’pilano, which means “beautiful river”), Mohawk, and Saguenay. 

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