Pride flag being raised in Cochrane to kick off town’s first-ever Pride Week

File photo: The Pride flag was raised in Nose Creek Park on Saturday, June 22.

Pride celebrations will be bringing a “sparkle” of hope to Cochrane during the town’s first-ever Pride Week starting Monday.

A Progress Pride flag will be raised outside the Cochrane RancheHouse during a socially distanced outdoor ceremony at 6 p.m. Brianna Sharpe, spokesperson for Kindred Cochrane Pride Society, said she expects “misty eyes” in the crowd as the flag is raised there for the first time.

“We have fun and creative ways to bring these elements of celebration, inclusivity and the fight for greater equity in our town and in the world, to Cochrane during Pride Week,” said Sharpe.

“One thing the pandemic has really brought to people’s minds is the real, crucial role of social connection, belonging and community, and those are things that Pride is really about. I think people are looking for some sparkle through the hardship of this time and Pride brings a bit of hope.”

While Sharpe has heard much enthusiasm about the town’s first Pride Week, she’s also heard rumblings of disapproval through social media comments and posts.

“Some folks are questioning this move forward, and to them, I say, ‘You’re on the wrong side of history because this is a step that needs to happen and our town is ready and excited for it,’” she said Sunday.

The small towns and cities that have established their own Pride Weeks have “paved a way” for Cochrane to introduce its own, Sharpe said. “This is just the first of many.”

The two drag shows scheduled this week have already sold out because of high demand and limited capacity, but Kindred Cochrane Pride Society will continue posting about other events and online activities throughout the week on its

Facebook page

.

The Pride Week was proclaimed last month by town council, and Cochrane Mayor Jeff Genung and councillors will be present during the flag-raising ceremony alongside Kindred Cochrane Pride Society and Cochrane Rainbows.

“Celebrating diversity is a vital and integral part of our society,” said Genung in a statement. “In the spirit of inclusion, equity and human rights, council encourages all residents of the Town of Cochrane to reflect on and embrace our differences while coming together to celebrate our inaugural Pride Week from August 17 to 24.”

The Progress Pride flag has the rainbow of the original Pride flag in the centre but also incorporates the pink, blue and white of the trans flag, and black and brown stripes for LGBTQ2S+ communities of colour.

The in-person events will be complying with the safety requirements from Alberta Health Services, so attendees are encouraged to wear masks and observe physical distancing.

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