News / Winnipeg

Manitoba teen praised at Winnipeg Pride flag ceremony

Winnipeg’s Pride Festival officially kicked off at City Hall on Friday with a tribute to a Manitoba teen credited with tackling homophobia in a rural town.

Mayor Sam Katz congratulated Evan Wiens, the Steinbach teen who successful lobbied his school division to allow him to openly promote a gay-straight alliance student group at his high school.

Wiens has been chosen honorary marshal for the Pride Winnipeg parade on June 2.

“The young man that I think we should all realize stood very tall when it came to the debate on Bill 18, and that’s Evan Wiens,” said Katz.

“Evan, very much appreciate you being here.”

Katz recalled the first Pride march 26 years ago that included 250 people, some of whom were “afraid to show their own faces.”

“Twenty-six years later, the Pride Festival has transformed into a 10-day celebration of awareness, acceptance and activism,” he added.

“Now 30,000 people of all ages and background join in to celebrate the diversity.”

Jonathan Niemczak, president of Pride Winnipeg, said the festival has doubled the number of partners from 2012 and also done a lot of work over the past year to create closer ties with other community groups.

“We’ve come a long way in the 26 years,” said Niemczak, adding Winnipeg is an “amazing city.”

“Winnipeg is truly a leading city in the LGBT rights movement and Winnipeggers themselves are leaders among our community.”

Visit pridewinnipeg.com and check your Metro Winnipeg newspaper edition for more information on the events taking place during the 10-day festival.

More on Metronews.ca