By Nikayla Goddard, August 28 2020—
“I think it’s vitally important to understand students’ role in the Queer rights and liberation movement, to understand our role in pushing forward this societal progress […] It’s important to remember that while things seem better than they used to be, there’s still so much more that can be done,” said University of Calgary Students’ Union president Frank Finley. “And Pride is not about a corporation changing their logo on Twitter to have a rainbow in it. It’s about people coming together and fighting for their human rights and trying to make sure the next generation has it better than us.”
Calgary Pride Week takes place this year from Aug. 28 to Sept. 6, and the Students’ Union (SU), University of Calgary and Calgary Pride have a variety of programming and events in place to celebrate.
UCalgary celebrated the start of Pride by raising a Pride flag on the flagpole to the north of the Rosza Center on Aug. 27; Frank Finley, UCalgary president Ed McCauley, provost and vice-president academic Dru Marshall, the newly appointed vice provost Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Malinda Smith and student leaders from the Q Centre, Queers on Campus and the U of C’s Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) participated in the ceremony.
“Everyone here is committed to the notion of diversity and inclusion being a very very important component of our university,” McCauley said at the ceremony. “We need diverse ideas. We need respectful environments where those ideas can be expressed. That is the hallmark of a truly innovative university for the future.”
McCauley added that this year’s Pride marks the 30th anniversary of Calgary Pride, and said that while there is a lot to celebrate, “but everybody here knows that we have a lot to do to ensure inclusion” and to continue to recognize and celebrate LGBTQ2S+ people and actively work to reduce the amount of violence inflicted on them.
The university is offering different Pride events this year which include:
- Key of T Film & Research Talkback: A special screening of the film Key of T, a film that documents choral singer Ari Agha’s dilemma when considering testosterone therapy, which could cost them their singing voice. A dire lack of research on the topic makes it an even tougher decision. In Key of T, Agha and Laura Hynes (School of Creative and Performing Arts) talk about researching what happens during a major voice transition and crafting a performance from the results.
- Changing the Narrative of Exclusion: LGBTQA2+ Inclusion in Faith and Healthcare. Dr. Tonya Callaghan, PhD, and Dr. Caley Shukalek, MD, share their personal experiences and discuss their work and research, which is challenging these systems of oppression and driving meaningful change towards a more inclusive society that truly supports all members equally.
- The Rise and Fall of Lesbian Nation: An Interview with Dr. Lillian Faderman, which will examine why lesbian feminism was so important to women in the 1970s and ‘80s and and the controversy over TERF (“trans-exclusionary radical feminists”)
- Faculty of Kinesiology Ultimate L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+ Trivia Game. You will have a chance to win a (Gold $200, Silver $100, or Bronze $50) prize pack plus bragging rights.
- #ProudPartners panel with Dr. Malinda Smith, UCalgary vice-provost (equity, diversity and inclusion). The panel will offer insight into active initiatives, challenges, learnings and plans for future growth surrounding diversity and inclusion in professional and larger business environments.
Calgary Pride is taking place this year virtually, and celebrating Pride through featuring almost 300 LGBTQ2S+ artists, a free learning series with over 100 workshops, #OurPride community partner events, daily DJ and Drag Hour entertainment leading up to Parade Day and 11 hours of jam-packed entertainment on Sept. 6. To check out the amazing programming and events that Calgary Pride has planned this year, check out their website.
When asked about his thoughts on what the university is doing for Pride this year, Finley responded that the SU is “always happy to work with the university on these shared issues” but added it’s important that the SU hold them accountable as well.
“[Pride] is more than just raising a Pride flag,” Finley said. “It’s understanding that our work is not yet done and there is still a long way to go together.”
He continued, “Looking back at the University of Calgary, we have to realize that there is a rich history here of the community organizing and people speaking out for the rights of LGBTQ2S+ people at a time when it was not overwhelmingly popular. So the University of Calgary in my mind has a special place in that history.”
U of C provost Dru Marshall provided the following statement:
“UCalgary is a proud community partner of Calgary Pride, so we are very pleased be involved in several events throughout Pride Week — some hosted by UCalgary and others by Calgary Pride during this 30th anniversary year.
“Calgary Pride Week is an opportunity to highlight the academics, clubs and community builders who are actively engaged in increasing awareness of LGBTQ2S+ issues and overall equity, diversity, inclusion and intersectionality on our campuses and in our communities.
“Because of public health guidelines related to COVID-19, UCalgary’s approach to supporting Calgary Pride has expanded considerably this year. Usually, our involvement would revolve largely around the Pride Parade. While there is a virtual Parade and Festival this year, and we did contribute to it, we also took the opportunity to contribute to new online Calgary Pride programming by hosting webinars, lectures and events throughout the week.
“In addition to the new Pride Week programming that provides an opportunity for the campus LGBTQ2S+ community to gather, last year, the University of Calgary created a new Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), led by the inaugural Vice Provost Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Malinda S. Smith. In the upcoming year, with Dr. Smith’s leadership, the office of EDI will engage in a variety of collaborative initiatives to better support LGBTQ2S+ students, faculty and staff, and to ensure LGBTQ2S+ community are actively engaged in all equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives at UCalgary. These include several interelated areas: first, education and awareness workshops, an EDI speaker series, and Diversity Days programming. Second, collaborative efforts are already underway to explore how to expand EDI disaggregated data collection with the aim of better understanding the differential experiences of members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, and improving supports, services and opportunities.”
For the upcoming fall semester, Q: The SU Centre for Sexual & Gender Diversity is still planning to remain in action despite in-person closure due to COVID.
“Our hope is that the Q Centre can open in person at the earliest possible time when it is safe, but until that point we will be providing virtual support through the Q Centre. And that includes one-on-ones and [virtual] meet-ups and events,” Finley said, which will be coordinated by the incoming Q Centre coordinators.