Queen City Pride is calling the federal government’s apology to Canada’s LGBTQ community a “stepping stone” towards equality.
“Some people will think, ‘the past has already happened, let’s move on,’ but there’s people in the community who still need to hear that simple ‘sorry,'” explained Regina Pride co-chair Jesse Ireland.
In Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s speech in the House of Commons on Tuesday, before formally apologizing, he spoke of how the country perpetrated decades of discrimination against LGBTQ people.
“The state orchestrated a culture of stigma and fear around (LGBTQ) communities and, in doing so, destroyed peoples’ lives,” said Trudeau. “We were wrong, we apologize. I am sorry. We are sorry.”
Ireland said he hopes that those words will resonate with Canadians outside the LGBTQ community as well.
“Hopefully society today can understand we’re in a different kind of world where we need to continue to grow in acceptance,” he said.
When it comes to younger LGBTQ people, Ireland added the apology gives them the opportunity to learn about the path those before them in the community have walked.
“It’s important for people who were around back in the day there to continue to educate the youth today and to make sure people know where we have come from,” he said.
While he said there’s no price attached to a person’s pain, Ireland noted he’s pleased with the Liberal government’s plan to allocate $110 million in compensation for members of the military and Canada’s civil service, who were fired and/or criminally charged for their sexuality.
However, Ireland said he’s looking most forward to the educational aspect that’s expected to come with the extra $15 million put aside for projects involving LGBTQ reconciliation and remembrance.
“It’s important that we develop that education and get that knowledge out there — of where we’ve come from and the hard work that’s been put in to get us to where we are today,” he explained.
As for the bill put forth to expunge peoples’ criminal records involving consensual sexual activity between same-sex partners, Ireland said it’s more symbolic than anything.
“It doesn’t really do too much currently, as people already lived through what they’ve gone through, but it’s at least nice to have that idea of a clean past.”