Sudbury Pride announced that it is cancelling its annual LGBTQ parade in solidarity with Black Lives Matter (BLM) after the city said it would not pull police logistics from the event. 

In a Facebook post, organizers said, “after careful consideration, and in solidarity with our friends at Black Lives Matter Sudbury, we have made the decision to cancel the Pride March.” The march was planned for Saturday.

The cancellation comes after Black Lives Matter Sudbury called on Sudbury Pride “to decenter police within their programming and to acknowledge their harmful actions,” amid organizers working with police ahead of the parade.

“Police have a longstanding history of targeting queer spaces and criminalizing 2SLGBTQ+ people,” claimed BLM Sudbury in a Facebook post, citing the raid on New York City’s Stonewall Inn in 1969 and raids on Toronto’s homosexual bathhouses in 1981 as examples. It did not cite examples of aggression by Greater Sudbury Police Services.

“Let us not forget that without the longstanding community organizing work largely done by Black and Brown 2SLGBTQ+ activists, we would not be where we are today,” added BLM. “Though current Pride events now look more like colourful, corporate parades, the movement is rooted in organizing and radical community care.”

In response to BLM’s statement, Sudbury Pride noted that “2S-LGBTQ+ organizations have the responsibility to continue anti-oppression and anti-racism work, and to work to dismantle systems that cause harm.”

“By involving police in our March, we did not create safety for those who continue to be harmed by policing in our community.”

Organizers say they met with Sudbury’s Mayor to see if police could be replaced with civilian volunteer marshals. However, such a move wasn’t possible because “current bylaws and restrictions through the Highway Traffic Act do not allow organizations to use city roads without police in place as traffic control.”

Hence, organizers decided to cancel the pride parade. 

Pride Sudbury apologized to the LGBTQ community, and to BLM for the “harm” caused by including police.

“We want to again apologize to Black Lives Matter Sudbury and members of the Black, Indigenous, and POC communities of Sudbury for the harm that our actions caused.”

“We hope to continue our work with you to make sure that the community takes care of the community, using this as a foundation to foster a sense of safety for all.”

Pride Sudbury’s decision to cancel the parade is, however, being criticized. 

True North columnist Sue-Ann Levy, who is openly gay, said it amazes her “that Pride organizers, first in Toronto and elsewhere, and now in Sudbury, would allow themselves to be hijacked by a few radical activists with Black Lives Matter.”

“I can’t believe that they would ruin an entire parade to pander to a group that has created a faux narrative about the police here in Canada, who are not targeting blacks, I believe, in the same manner we see south of the border.”

Pride Sudbury says it is exploring options for future pride parades and is asking that “members of our community who are able to email or phone their city councilors.”

While the pride parade has been cancelled, other pride events are still taking place in the city as it marks its “pride week.” 

A “pride in the park” event planned for Saturday will proceed. The latter is described as “a full day to gather loudly, proudly, and in community against rising anti-trans and anti-2SLGBTQ+ bigotry.”