First Responders © Unity Festival Toronto

Apparently different from Unity & Inclusion (previously), the First Responders © Unity Festival Toronto (sic) describes itself this way (mild edits):

Who is it for?

LGBTQ2+ first responders and civil servants and allies in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and elsewhere who put their lives on the line and provide essential services to their city, province, state and country every day.

This includes, but is not in any way limited to, police at all levels, firefighters, ems and paramedics, transit organizations, military and defence organizations, correctional services and all other law-abiding and supportive groups, organizations and individuals.

Why has it been created?

We can think of no examples in Canada where either a public or private employer has been a lead sponsor for an event their employees were asked not to participate in. When any city, provincial, state or federal employee, regardless of their job function, is disinvited from an event hosted in the City of Toronto, it is a conflict of interest, and unacceptable that the City of Toronto sponsor such an event.

With that, however, we are excited to ensure that LGBTQ2+ first responders and civil servants, their allies, families, and friends as well as the public broadly are able to celebrate the incredible contributions each and every one of them make.

Although Pride Toronto has determined that full participation in uniform is not a possibility at their festival this year, participation, of any kind, will be welcome for all first responders and civil servants at the First Responders Unity Festival – Toronto. It is about showing the LOVE.

What is it?

A new opportunity for first responders and civil servants to celebrate their pride with the public, family and friends in 2017, with lots of great music, lights, great uniforms, wet uniforms (firehoses, squirt guns, dunk tanks), dancing, food, drinks and representation from all kinds of people and organizations – as we show the City, the media and the world that Toronto IS inclusive, just differently in 2017 as we get back on track.

Where is it?

At present, the exact site location is TBD; however, suggested locations are being explored within close proximity to the Pride Festival that does not conflict with the actual Parade or Festival but will be accessible. We seek your participation over the coming weeks to pull together these and other finer details.

When is it?

Sunday, June 25, 2017. The First Responders Unity Festival will be held to coincide with the Parade to ensure that those who would otherwise be represented are able to celebrate at the same time, equally and fully, at a festival that continues well beyond the Parade’s end. This does not preclude parade participation, although some organizations are considering opting out of the parade to participate in this event in a show of solidarity.

How to get involved?

As the details of this event are meant to be determined by first responders and related organizations which have been disinvited to participate fully, you are asked to participate in a roundtable meeting on a date TBD between June 7 to 9, 2017 following the Toronto Police Chief’s Pride Reception on June 6, 2017. Please contact Bryn Hendricks at unityfestivaltoronto@gmail.com for more information.

Support letters

  • The Unity Festival published a PDF (local copy) with support statements, direct or indirect, from:

    • Ryan Doyle, Newstalk 1010
    • Sue-Ann Levy (!)
    • Daniel Charron

    Also included were a letter from gay and lesbian cops to police union president Mike McCormack and a press release from Serving with Pride.

  • The Unity Festival also published a press release (apparently only as an image) saying this:

    First Responders Unity Festival Toronto

    Uniformed police and all first responders, civil servants welcome at First Responders Unity Festival

    In light of the vote by Pride Toronto to exclude unformed officers from the parade this year, first responders and civil servants are showing their love and solidarity at the First Responders Unity Festival on Sunday, June 25, 2017.

    LGBTQ2+ first responders, civil servants and allies who put their lives on the line and provide essential services to their city, province and country every day will be celebrating their pride at an event inclusive of everyone and welcomed in uniform or however they choose to identify. This includes, but is not limited to, police at all levels, firefighters, EMS and paramedics, transit organizations, military and defence organizations, correctional services and all other law-abiding and supportive groups, organizations and individuals.

    At the First Responders Unity Festival, participation of any kind will be welcome for all first responders and civil servants. It is about showing the LOVE. It is a new opportunity for first responders and civil servants to celebrate their pride with the public, family and friends in 2017, with lots of great music, lights, wet uniforms (firehoses, squirt guns, dunk tanks with Firefighter Calendar Boys), dancing, food, drinks, and representation from all kinds of people and organizations, as we show the City and the world that Toronto is inclusive – just differently this year.

    Although the exact location is TBD, various locations are being explored within close proximity to the Pride Festival that do not conflict with the actual Parade or Festival but will be accessible. A committee of first responders is coming together to organize the finer details. Participation in the First Responders Unity Festival does not preclude parade participation. Pride has a special meaning to everyone, and it is exciting to celebrate our first responders and civil servants in how they identify. We hope you will join in celebrating too.

    As more details of this event are available, they will be updated at www.unityfestival.ca.

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