First Fraser Valley Pride event takes place in Abbotsford on Saturday

Organizer says event will be a celebration of gender and sexual diversity

Abbotsford will host its first ever Fraser Valley Pride event on Saturday, May 25, organized by the Fraser Valley Youth Society (FVYS).

John Kuipers, program co-ordinator for FVYS, said there was local demand for a pride event.

“(We want) to raise awareness that there are queer people here in the Valley, and bring awareness of the fact that there is support.

“We’ve seen how inclusive the community of Abbotsford and the Fraser Valley can be, and we are really excited to celebrate that.”

For the past five years, FVYS has held a “Walk Away From Homophobia” event, but decided this year to change the walk into a pride event.

“The name change was made to communicate that we feel it’s important to remove negative connotations and avoid labelling queer people as victims.”

Kuipers said they also wanted to expand the scope of the event to be celebratory of gender and sexual diversity.

The event starts with a march at 3 p.m., beginning at the Matsqui Recreation Centre at 3106 Clearbrook Rd. The group will walk south on Clearbrook, turning east on South Fraser Way and ending at the Civic Plaza at 32315 South Fraser Way.

The march will be followed by a barbecue by donation at the plaza, at 4 p.m. There will be speeches by community members, volunteers and youth, as well as face painting, games, music and door prizes.

At 6 p.m. a screening will be held in the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium of the film She’s a Boy I Knew, by Gwen Haworth.

At 7:30 p.m. there will be a panel discussion with the film director, and representatives of Fraser Valley Youth Society will answer questions about what FVYS does and what they hope to achieve in the community.

Kuipers said they welcome all members of the community to celebrate and take part in the pride events.

For more information about FVYS and the Fraser Valley Pride event, visit www.fraseryouth.com.

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