Capital Pride launched officially Friday, Aug 17 with an awards gala held at the Arc Hotel to honour members of the city’s queer community who have made substantial contributions over the past year.
“It’s important to recognize those members and businesses that have done wonderful things for our community,” Capital Pride chair Loresa Novy says. “All the nominees this year are phenomenal. The selection committee had a hard job to do.”
Honourees were selected by write-in nominations, and winners were chosen by a panel of three judges.
acted as the event’s master of ceremonies. Winners included Ciarra White, for Youth Activist of the Year; Joanne Law
, for Activist of the Year; Gender Mosaic, for Community Group of the Year; and After Stonewall, for Business of the Year.
As a student at Ottawa Technical Secondary School, White came out in front of her fellow students on pink shirt day, a day to promote anti-bullying that White herself spearheaded.
“I was really nervous because I don’t do public speaking at all,” White recalls. “A lot of them knew because I never really hid my sexuality and I was proud of it. Overall they reacted pretty well. I got a few bad criticisms, but I didn’t let it get to me because everyone’s going to have their own opinion.”
Youth Activist of the Year, Ciarra White, courageously came out in front of her entire school and founded several queer-positive groups.
White credits Jeremy Dias of Jer’s Vision for encouraging her to found her school’s GSA and anti-bullying program and says it’s amazing to be recognized as a young activist. White will continue her education at Algonquin College later this month and hopes to be an integral part of the GSA on campus.
For Law, the win means she will have to clear a space on her overflowing mantel. She has accumulated close to 30 awards for her work as a trans activist and volunteer and says she has placed each on her "me" wall.
“When I’m sitting on my futon, I see that award wall and I’m proud of everything I’ve ever received.”
Law added that it is those plaques and awards that encourage her to keep working on behalf of the queer community.
At the upcoming Capital Pride AGM, Law plans to hand in her resignation from the Pride Committee after 18 years of service. This revelation drew laughs of disbelief from the crowd, although Law told Xtra she is serious in her intention to leave the board.
“I will still volunteer,” she says. “This is my community. I love everybody. It’s where I get my energy from.”
The members of Gender Mosaic have themselves been expending bundles of energy this summer, visiting Pride celebrations across the province. Dedicated to providing a supportive environment for trans and cross-gender individuals, Gender Mosaic’s second vice-president, Amanda Ryan, says she’s thrilled to be recognized for the work her organization has accomplished.
“We are very involved with helping people who are coming out of the closet for the very first time, and that’s very gratifying when you can see the progress people are making,” Ryan says. “We focus on public education as much as we can, so it’s a really good feeling to have a prize given to us for everything we do.”
David Rimmer, of After Stonewall, could not attend the event. The namesake of Wicked Wanda’s, last year’s recipient of the Business of the Year award, accepted the honour on his behalf.
Additional nominees included Zoe Easton, Hannah Collins
and Erica Butler
, for Youth Activist of the Year; Jeremy Dias
, Mike Tattersall
, Rob Yanoski and Tom Barns, for Activist of the Year; Bridgehead and Stroked Ego, for Business of the Year; and Poz Brotherhood and the Seniors' Pride Network for Community Group of the Year.