RCMP to join gays in Vancouver Pride Parade
Published Saturday, August 2, 2008 7:00PM PDT
Last minute preparations are underway for the 2008 Vancouver Pride Parade on Sunday. This year it's expected to attract hundreds of thousands of people, a testament to Vancouver's diversity and acceptance.
The Vancouver Pride Parade has had a lot of firsts over the years. In 2000, then NDP Premier Ujjal Dosanjh became the first premier in Canada to take part in such an event.
Since then, politicians from all parties, and levels of government, have come to Vancouver to take part and join in the fun..
Even Vancouver Police have had an official presence for years.
But this year marks another first for what has become a key event on the city's summer calendar.
For the first time, the RCMP will be taking part, not providing security, but officially entering the parade.
The Mounties say it's important they're seen to reflect the communities they serve.
"We want to show the overall community that we support the gay community as well as supporting that contingent of this community that works within our rank and file," said RCMP Sgt. Tim Shields.
Parade organizers and participants say this is a big step.
"That's awesome, you know, they say every Mountie gets his man,'' said Ken Boesem, a regular participant in the parade.
"For a long time it's sort of been an oppositional thing between the culture gay society, gay culture, and the police force,'' he said. "There's sort of a fear of the police because it's been outlawed or against the law so it's kind of building bridges."
But don't look for the 12 RCMP officers taking part to get too wild.
They'll be shying away from the more provocative parade displays. But given how big a step it is for the Mounties to even be in the parade, it's not likely anyone will mind.
With a report by CTV British Columbia's Stephen Smart