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Saint John Pride president Mariah Darling speaks during a flag raising at City Hall on Aug. 8, 2023. Image: Brad Perry

Saint John Pride Week 2023 is here with new events

By Ryley Roach Aug 9, 2023 | 6:42 AM

Saint John Pride Week 2023 has officially arrived. Being held from Aug. 8 to 13, the week will be filled with a variety of fantastic events to celebrate Pride in the community.

Events officially kicked off on Tuesday with flag raisings at HMCS Brunswicker and Saint John City Hall.

Over the course of this week, there will be a handful of events held on each day. However, Saint John Pride will be partnering with Area 506 and TD Bank to bring to life the new Area 506 Pride Party.

“The Area 506 Pride Party is going to be an amazing celebration for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community,” said Mariah Darling, board president of Saint John Pride.

“It’s an evening filled with great music, dancing, and DJs like Groovy Tuesday, DJ Mademoiselle, and FREEWILL will keep the party going all night long with their fantastic tunes.”

The Area 506 Pride Party will take place on Saturday from 7 to 11 p.m. Darling said this will be the perfect event for anyone looking to just have fun, let their hair down, and show their pride.

This new event aims to bring a safe and inclusive space to celebrate and express your true self. With this year being the first iteration of the Area 506 Pride Party, Darling said Saint John Pride hopes to start a partnership that will allow them to continue holding these events for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

“With the increasing hate and misinformation against the 2SLGTQIA+ community, providing a safe and inclusive space to express and celebrate queer joy is more important than ever,” they said.

People gather for a photo following a Pride flag raising at Saint John City Hall on Aug. 8, 2023. Image: Brad Perry

Darling said that some individuals may find it daunting to enter spaces that are occupied by primarily cisgender, heterosexual individuals. However, if they can bring a safe space to those individuals for even just one night, then that will help introduce them to a welcoming community space where they can feel comfortable to just be themselves.

In addition to the Area 506 Pride Party, this year’s events also include a Pride Market, an all-age drag show, and the annual Pride parade on Saturday.

“The cool part of the parade this year is it’s ending by the container village, where there’s going to be activities for the whole family happening throughout the afternoon,” said Darling.

This year’s Pride Week comes on the heels of controversial changes made to the province’s gender identity policy in schools.

One of the biggest changes prevents teachers from using the preferred name or pronouns of a child under 16, both formally and informally, without parental consent.

If the school cannot get consent, students will be directed to work with a school social worker or  psychologist to come up with a plan to speak to their parents — if and when they are ready to do so.

“It makes it so much more important to take those moments to really purposefully celebrate the community and experience those moments of queer joy,” said Darling.

“Sometimes, especially when all of these issues are happening, there can be a lot of focus on the negativity and that hate and having to be very vulnerable. We really want to make sure we’re also giving that space for joy and celebration, which is super important.”

For more information and event updates, visit SJPride.ca.

Saint John Pride Week 2023 Schedule. Image: Saint John Pride.


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