Ripples from the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida are being felt even in Regina, 3,700 kilometres away.
The Queen City Pride is bringing in more security for the festival next week.
There are more than 40 events happened during Pride Week in Regina, culminating in the Pride Parade and festival in Victoria Park on Saturday.
Jesse Ireland, co-chair of the festival, said after the shooting they took a full evaluation of safety.
“Security and safety is one of our biggest things that we have to look at, not only with any festival, but especially when you’re dealing with the LGBTQ community and things that deal with human rights.”
He explained the festival has hired more security for the parade and festival, and has asked Regina police to have more of a presence during that events than had originally been planned.
“We wanted to do something that’s precautionary, make sure that anyone who comes to attend the festival throughout the week feels safe and comfortable with all of the events,” said Ireland. “It’s important that we plan ahead and be smart about these kind of things, and not have a ‘shoulda‘, woulda‘, coulda” kind of situation.”
Ireland said the shooting has been tough for people.
“People who have been around in the community for a long time are being reminded of how things used to be, and people who are new to the community are kind of experiencing for their first time a real-life situation of trauma – so it’s been a bit of shake up even here in Regina.”
Click here to see a full schedule of events for Pride Week.
Feeling the effects
The owner of Divas in Saskatoon, a well-known gay bar, agrees that the tragedy in Orlando is affecting people here.
Aaron Paestch calls the mass shooting at a gay bar in Florida that left 50 dead a hate crime.
“A lot of people maybe don’t understand it. They’re not educated and there is a lot of hate directed towards us as a community,” he explained.
Paestch said this month’s pride events are held so they everyone can feel part of a community, one he believes won’t be stopped by the tragedy in Orlando.
“Community is really important. You need people out there on the same page as you also supporting the decision you are making in life.”
With files from Sarah Mills.