We’re still buzzing with excitement after an unforgettable Pride parade earlier this month. After two years of our favourite festival being on pause due to the pandemic, we had a lot of pent-up Pride energy we were dying to let out! With record-breaking attendance of over 50,000 supporters and plenty of fresh faces experiencing their very first Pride festival, it was incredibly gratifying to see such a diverse group of Canadians coming together to support a movement that’s so dear to our hearts.
You CAN #PrideWithUs
If you’ve never gone to a Pride festival before, you might be a bit nervous or unsure what to expect. Some folks may not have someone to bring along with them, while others might be taking the first steps in supporting a loved one and aren’t sure how to start. Whether you were a first-time Pride attendee or a seasoned parade marcher—we wanted everyone to feel included and part of the community.
We launched our #PrideWithUs campaign to accompany our UpHouse parade float. We extended the invite to anyone wanting to join the fun, dance on our float, or march along with the rest of the UpHouse squad. All you had to do was sign up and show up! Every participant received a #PrideWithUs T-shirt—because what better way to show solidarity than with sweet matching outfits?
For every sign-up, we pledged to donate $5 to Reaching Out Winnipeg (ROW), a local organization doing incredible work for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. You might remember them from our 2021 Brainstorm for Good event this past December at Nonsuch Brewing Co.! ROW helps bring 2SLGBTQIA+ asylum seekers to Canada, escaping persecution due to their sexuality or gender identity. Their commitment to inclusion and acceptance wholly aligned with our mission for #PrideWithUs, and we were thrilled to help support their work again!
UpHouse and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Float
We wanted our float to reflect the energy, exuberance, and diversity of our colourful community—literally! We covered the whole thing in reflective mirror panels, so as we drove through the excited crowds, they’d see their own smiling faces, waving flags, and vibrant colours shining back at them.
Aboard the float was a gaggle of UpHouse team members, friends from the community, local drag queen Sylv donning a neon yellow leotard, and DJ K.Chedda spinning some classic pride anthems like “Born This Way,” and “Express Yourself.” Oh, and of course, a little Celine Dion for our Franco pals over at Wookey Films. Some team members even brought their toddlers along for the ride—it’s never too early to teach love and acceptance!
Our friends at Little Brown Jug joined in with a parade float, too! We have to admit, it was pretty awesome to see our rainbow bison design for their Queer Beer limited-edition Pride brew on full display. Kudos to our designers for knocking that one out of the park!
Hilary Duff Said It Best: This is What Dreams are Made Of.
For many of us at UpHouse who have been attending Pride parades for years—even decades—it was incredible to see so many people experiencing it for the first time. It’s such a joy to collectively experience that sense of wide-eyed wonderment at the sea of rainbow colours and cheering people, waving sparkly pompoms and proudly holding signs and banners of support. One of our creative collaborators at UpHouse, Nickia McIvor, finally fulfilled their lifelong dream of attending a Pride parade.
Growing up in Churchill, Nickia never had the opportunity to attend a local Pride festival but would always catch glimpses of the Winnipeg parade when watching the news. On the car ride over, their Uber driver asked them about what was happening, and Nickia got to explain why everyone was celebrating. It was a perfect start to a perfect day, only further building anticipation for their long-awaited, first-ever Pride march.
“Hearing about it online, I built it up in my head as this huge thing, and it lived up to expectations. I’m like, ‘Finally! It’s all lining up!’. I loved seeing everyone going down Main street dressed in their flag colours or favourite outfits—whatever made them comfortable. Everyone feeling their best made me feel my best.” — Nickia McIvor
Throughout history, 2SLGBTQIA+ people have felt the pressure to hide their true colours. For many, the freedom to express our authentic selves and values can feel like a dream come true. Seeing so many kids in attendance gave us hope that future generations won’t experience the degree of shame or pressure to hide like the many queer trailblazers who came before us.
We’re already looking forward to next year’s parade, and if you’ve never had the privilege of participating in the celebration, we highly encourage you to #PrideWithUs someday! We’re always happy to make space and connect people for a good cause. Make friends, create memories, and support our vibrant community of 2SLGBTQIA+ advocates and allies, parents and children, and drag queens and DJs.