Skip to content


June 18, 2024

Honourable senators, happy Indigenous History Month and happy Pride Month! Let’s reflect on how we must continue to preserve and promote equality and safeguard hard-won rights as we celebrate the rich potential that a diverse, inclusive and equal society could provide for all of us, especially for Indigenous, two-spirit and rainbow communities.

This year marks the fifty-fifth anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, which catalyzed the gay liberation and Pride movement and was commemorated the following year by the first Pride march.

Two years ago, I had the privilege and responsibility of meeting and presenting with Martin Boyce, one of just a handful, colleagues, of surviving Stonewall riots activists.

We talked about when being open and public about whom you loved could result in being criminalized and imprisoned. Most of us remember the imperative of being closeted to avoid too often vicious victimization, stigmatization and vilification, and, worse, often brutal conversion approaches that resulted in violence, rape and even death. We talked about the personal struggles and challenges faced in society and the courts, as well as in our homes and workplaces.

Current rights were hard won; they were not freely given. Fundamental rights were suppressed by heterosexist systems that criminalized, marginalized, targeted, raided and attempted to exterminate 2SLGBTQIA+ folks. And despite the gains of recent decades, we are seeing the renewed attempts to suppress and oppress our rights and legal protections in Canada and around the globe.

The year I turned 10, same-sex sexual activities were decriminalized, but it took decades for social acceptance to follow. In my adolescence, most of us stayed closeted, except to those we trusted — people like my mentors and friends Jim Egan and Jack Nesbit.

Jim demonstrated grace and compassion while facing the vitriol heaped on him, Jack and their friends for being gay and — worse yet — out. Their fight was an incremental success but did not result in them being recognized as spouses.

This Pride Month, we can reflect on how far we have come since then, since the Stonewall Uprising, the gay purge of the military and public service and other struggles.

We can celebrate, too, that on July 20, 2005, Canada became the fourth country to legalize same-sex marriage and that, via organizations such as Rainbow Railroad, we now accept those escaping persecution internationally.

This Pride Month, let’s all collectively commit to promote and safeguard the progress that we have made to ensure that Canada continues to accept, support and guarantee the safety of our community.

Chi-meegwetch, colleagues. Thank you.

Back to top