Author: Jack Saddleback and Bonnie Heilman

Through the perseverance of 2SLGBTQ+ people and organizations throughout Saskatchewan’s long history of Pride on the Prairies, Saskatoon is becoming a beacon for unapologetic visibility for peoples of all backgrounds, genders, sexual orientations, and more!

It was 2013 when Max attended the Saskatoon Pride Festival for the first time. A newcomer to Canada, he had just moved to Saskatoon from Vancouver. Based on what he had heard about Saskatchewan, Max was shocked to see such a kind, inviting, and fun-filled festival! He recalls the streets lined with Allies cheering loudly to celebrate the diversity within the city. As a Black, queer, cisgender male, Max found the inviting nature that the Saskatoon Pride Festival amplifies to be the grounding experience that actually encouraged him to stay living in Saskatoon; through the visbiity of allyship in Saskatoon, the droves of local businesses and organizations chanting loudly for Pride, Max found his space.

The high energy of Pride and inclusion carries throughout the city where you’ll find Max and other like-minded advocates, allies, community members, and businesses offering what they can to give back to the 2SLGBTQ+ community. For years, Saskatoon’s Pride movement was solely on the shoulders of volunteers and what little money they could bring out of their own savings to create the few car’d parades, picnics, and dancehall get-togethers. Fast forward through the years of anti-Pride protests, homophobic backlash from a number of Saskatoon community members, or dismissals of the Pride celebrations (including by a former Mayor that did not walk in the Pride parade even once during his 13 years in office); the city of Saskatoon is getting better with thousands of active allies lining the streets, inviting people in.

Joining in on the good nature is easy; ride on down to YXE Ryde to get your spin on with this local business that hosts fundraisers for Saskatoon Pride and OUTSaskatoon. (You can even find Max hosting a class there!) For those looking to give proceeds to OUTSaskatoon’s Pride Home, a long-term home for 2SLGBTQ+ youth, you can head over to Hardpressed every June to grab some exclusive Pride swag with portions of the proceeds going directly to fund the home. Active allyship can come from many places, such as businesses offering funds, community members creating great art installations, schools doing awareness campaigns, community bake sales, solo fundraisers, and more to bring to light 2SLGBTQ+ causes. These being only a few examples of the droves of allies that have come forward over the years to stand up with the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Allies and proceeds like these ensure the services, supports, and community engagement can continue all year long!

Historically speaking, diversity and inclusion has been a long, slow, and hard fought road for 2SLGBTQ+ communities, including in Saskatchewan. Saskatoon’s 2SLGBTQ+ community and organizations have made meaningful connections with allies to create welcoming environments to connect with new people, celebrate with friends in lively spaces, and come together over our common love of food. Wherever you’re from, however you identify, the Saskatoon Pride Festival is your space.