In direct response to calls from community members and staff, our Board of Directors is releasing this statement to offer our support to the Black Lives Matter movement, the recent rallies and protests that Black and Indigenous people in our city have been hosting, and to begin the long process of acknowledging and challenging our own complicity in systemic racism, anti-Black racism, settler colonialism and white supremacy.

To read the statement from our Board of Directors, click here.

To read about our historical and current relationship with policing systems, click here.

To read about our initial commitments to challenge anti-Black racism, white supremacy and settler colonialism within our organization, click here.

To read about how you can get involved or challenge these systems within your own LGBTQ+ community, click here.


Statement from the Board of Directors

UR Pride Centre recognizes and affirms the history of Black and Latinx trans women and drag queens who started the Pride Movement in North America by fighting back against police violence. Throughout the 2STLGBQ+ movement, even in Saskatchewan, Black (Blaq / Blaqueer), Two-Spirit, Indigiqueer, and QTPOC have led and continue to lead movements for queer and trans rights, and for the rights for all marginalized people. Despite this reality, organizations and groups like UR Pride Centre, that are overwhelmingly governed and staffed by white queer people, often receive, claim, or accept credit for the progress that has been made. Meanwhile, organizations like ours too often incorporate anti-Black racism, settler colonialism and white supremacy throughout our governance and practices, and are complicit through both action and inaction in larger anti-Black, settler colonialist and white supremacist institutions and systems, most notably in policing.

At UR Pride Centre, our board of directors and white staff members are reflecting on our complicity in and contribution to these oppressive systems. We recognize that anti-Black racism, white supremacy and settler colonialism are entrenched in our organization. This must change.

Why is UR Pride talking about this now?

Anti-Black racism and settler colonialism have always been a part of Canadian and Saskatchewan institutions and communities, and Black and Indigenous people have been drawing attention to it forever. Despite this, it is only over the past few weeks that many non-Black and non-Indigenous people have started listening and taken notice of the ongoing harms. The catalyst for these conversations were the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd at the hands of police, but they are only two of many Black people killed by police action or inaction. Saskatchewan is not exempt from police violence, as we should all know the sordid history of Neil Stonechild’s death and the Starlight Tours, as well as the ongoing and systemic violence that Indigenous people and Black people face at the hands of police. During the rallies organized this month at the Legislative Assembly in Saskatchewan we heard from dozens of Black people who shared stories about anti-Black racism from police in our city. Further to this, Indigenous people and anti-colonialist organizations in our province have been sounding the alarm for years on police and state violence against Indigenous people, Black people and people of colour.

Although we have quietly supported these initiatives over the past number of years, we have been called on by our staff and the larger community to challenge the violence in our community, and to offer solidarity to Black and Indigenous people in our province who have been leading these movements for decades.

How does UR Pride contribute to white supremacy, anti-Black racism and settler colonialism?

While the conversations UR Pride Centre is having internally are directly in response to the anti-Black racism and settler colonialism entrenched within policing systems, we know that policing in Saskatchewan and across Canada has led to immense harm for many marginalized people in our communities, especially Black people, Indigenous people, trans women and sex workers. We are complicit in this harm. Since our founding, UR Pride Centre has failed to take a meaningful and purposeful stance against police violence, and through our attempts to “improve relationships between LGBT communities and police” we have ended up pinkwashing1 an institution that continues to hurt 2STLGBQ+ people, Black people, Indigenous people, transfeminine people, sex workers, and many more marginalized people. Working with police hasn’t made our community safer.

As we move forward in challenging our own complicity in white supremacist, anti-Black and settler colonial systems, we must also be accountable for our current failures. Over the past decade (and perhaps even since our founding), we have not had any management roles held by 2SQTBIPOC folks, and our organization has been overly reliant on 2SQTBIPOC labour within unpaid or underpaid roles. While we have aimed to support 2SQTBIPOC initiatives in Regina, these actions have only ever taken place after we’ve been directly asked for support. This is not allyship, nor is it solidarity. While we recognize the harm that policing and state institutions have contributed to 2SQTBIPOC communities, we must also recognize the harm we have contributed to these communities, the same people who we are meant to serve. We apologize for our complicity and contributions in the harm against 2SQTBIPOC people.

What is UR Pride’s Board of Directors committing to do moving forward?

Anti-Black racism, settler colonialism and white supremacy are not individual problems that can be solved by individual white people reflecting on their participation in these systems. We must take action to change the systems that enact these forces. To that end, UR Pride’s Board of Directors is committing to several actions including engaging our membership and the 2SQTBIPOC community in Regina to develop a meaningful action plan for how our organization can address anti-Black racism, settler colonialism, racism and white supremacy within our organization and through our relationships with various institutions and stakeholders. We encourage individuals to take action as well.

While we recognize that these commitments and actions do not reverse the harm that we have caused or been complicit in over the past two decades, we hope that they act as tangible ways for us to improve on that history and that our community will hold us accountable when we perpetuate harm against 2SQTBIPOC communities moving forward.

Signed,

UR Pride Board of Directors

To provide critical feedback to our Board of Directors or to engage further with us on these topics, you can send the Board of Directors an email at feedback@urpride.ca.


Footnote:

Pinkwashing is a term that is used to describe the process of making a corporate, political or state entity seem “gay-friendly” in an attempt to soften, minimize or ignore its’ participation in violence against marginalized communities.