Walking the beat with pride
Cape Breton Regional Police to continue walking in Pride Cape Breton parade
The Cape Breton Regional Police will continue to walk with Pride Cape Breton.
Pride Cape Breton and the regional police announced on Thursday the force will participate in this year’s pride parade, scheduled for Aug. 5 in Sydney.
Patrick MacNeil, co-chair of Pride Cape Breton, is happy with the decision to have the police force involved in the parade.
“Here in Cape Breton we’re trying to build a new path of inclusion and staying tight and in close with the community,” said MacNeil. “Cape Breton police have always been in our parades, for our safety doing their job as well as walking in support with us.”
The news that police will be allowed to march in the pride parade in Cape Breton comes after some police forces have chosen not to participate in pride parades in other cities.
In February, the Halifax Regional Police announced the force would not participate in the march, which will run through the city’s downtown core on July 22.
Meanwhile, in January, Pride Toronto members voted for the removal of police floats in future parades. The Toronto police force
later announced in February the force would not participate in the annual event.
The decisions made by these other communities are difficult for MacNeil to see.
“I believe that what a community does is what a community does — it’s unfortunate,” said MacNeil. “It’s hard for us to see that other places decided not to have the police in the parade, however, unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about it.”
Pride Cape Breton made the decision to have the police in the parade after meeting with the police force and reaching out to community members.
“We made the decision after lots of thought,” said MacNeil. “We listened to all the other community members that were messaging us, some wanted police, some didn’t want police, some wanted to follow suit with other cities.”
Police officers will be allowed to wear their uniforms in the parade, however the society has left the option open to the officers.
Cape Breton isn’t the only police force participating in pride parade events across Canada. Earlier this month, St. John’s Pride invited their police force to wear their uniforms in this year’s parade in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Cape Breton Regional Police has always been involved in the annual pride parade, dating back to when the parade started 12 years ago.
Last year, regional police Chief Peter McIsaac was the parade’s grand marshall, along with Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke.
“Our police force here is really strong with us, they are very big on community building, staying inclusive with the whole community, so in the end we decided that we would rather have our police included in our parade and march this year.”
The annual pride parade is to celebrate diversity, inclusion, protection and public safety for all citizens in the Cape Breton community.
“It was built from two of three people walking down the street to now where an entire community comes together to celebrate,” said MacNeil.
MacNeil hopes other cities can use Cape Breton as an example in future decisions regarding police in pride parades.
“I hope that they can look at us and see that a little island like ours, that people think is very close-minded and kind of disconnected from the world, is actually a light in the dark, because we’re trying our best to stay above and inclusive.”
Pride week in Cape Breton will take place Aug. 4-12. A number of events will take place throughout the week including a flag raising ceremony on Aug. 4 to begin the week. More details about other events will be released shortly.
In the meantime, Pride Cape Breton will be hosting an event this weekend. The society has an International Day of Homophobia and Transphobia event on Sunday from 1-3 p.m. at Open Hearth Park in Sydney.
Cape Breton Regional Police Chief Peter McIsaac, left, and CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke are shown as the grand marshalls for the Pride Cape Breton parade in this file photo from last year’s event. Cape Breton Regional Police will participate in the parade once again this year.