Greater Sudbury Police have come to an agreement with organizers of Sudbury's Pride Parade that will allow officers to take part in the event as long as they don't wear uniforms.
Describing it as a “mutual decision,” Fierté Sudbury Pride and the Greater Sudbury Police Service issued a news release saying the only exception will be police conducting traffic during the event.
“Having a Pride Week here in Greater Sudbury holds great importance for our LGBTQ2S+ community and for many of our allies,” the news release from police said.
“Pride Week is an opportunity to connect, express freely, and most importantly, to learn. Pride Week is also an opportunity to advocate for those who cannot show their own pride due to the fear of persecution.
“We currently have a police service that has come to us to learn how to be better allies, ensure that we have safe spaces to disclose information to police and has placed great emphasis on building mutually respectful relationships based on understanding. One of the steps taken by the Police Service is the offer to attend our main event, Pride Day in the Park, out of uniform and walk as guests in our space.”
The release quotes Aedan Charest, past co-chair of Fierté Sudbury Pride, as saying the decision allows marginalized members of the community to “come out and reclaim their spaces without the influence of uniformed police presence, which for many, have been a major factor in their oppression.
“Although many members of our LGBTQ2S+ community have expressed a love for the uniformed officers visibly marching alongside us, there are still members who have expressed a discomfort with the visible presence of uniforms,” the release said. “As inclusive leaders in our community and as members of Fierté
Sudbury Pride, we must put our own preferences aside and amplify the voices of marginalized and at-risk members in our community.
“We must acknowledge that our community is not done healing.”
Despite the uniform ban, Police Chief Paul Pedersen said in the release that the force is proud to participate.
“Our members always receive a warm reception from Sudbury Pride and we are honoured that organizers continue to invite us to take part in all of their scheduled events,” Pedersen is quoted as saying in the release.
“Our Police Service has worked very hard over the years to develop and build strong, positive relationships with our LGBTQ2S+ community members. We will continue to work in collaboration with Fierté Sudbury Pride to create safe spaces, promote inclusivity and understanding and break down barriers.”