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Pride Winnipeg plots expansion into rural Manitoba

Ready or not pride is coming to rural Manitoba.

With the success of the Winnipeg Pride Festival—which is expanding to a second day this summer—organizers at Pride Winnipeg are now setting their sights on helping smaller Manitoba communities set up their own festivals as well.

“At this time only Manitoba’s two biggest cities, Winnipeg and Brandon, have Prides,” said Pride Winnipeg president Jonathan Niemczak in a recent phone interview with Metro. “With Bill 18 last year, and all of the issues in Steinbach and Morris, we realized we need to do something about this.”

Organizers have been working behind the scenes with a group in Thompson who, with funding from Pride Winnipeg, will hold their first Pride Festival in June.

“Essentially they’re a subsidiary to Pride Winnipeg,” explained Niemczak. “We’re basically going to do all the back office things for them, and they’re going to just worry about the programming.

“Which is great because that’s exactly what they should be focusing on.”

Niemczak said the festival in Thompson is a pilot project, and if all works out well Pride Winnipeg hopes to bring festivals to other communities in the future—maybe even Steinbach or Morris.

“We know we’d be going into the lion’s den with that one,” laughed Niemczak about the possibility. “But I can guarantee that there’s LBGTQ folks in there… and it’s sad—I couldn’t imagine living in a town or a city that has had it’s council openly be against them.”

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