Pride Month has officially commenced in Waterloo, marked by a vibrant celebration on May 31. The Kick-Off event, held on Willis Way next to Waterloo Public Square, brought together community members to witness the unveiling of a new rainbow crosswalk and unique artwork displayed on city light poles.

Celebration and Community Engagement

Inaugural Event

The early celebration saw residents and visitors gather to show their support for the LGBTQ2+ community. The new rainbow crosswalk symbolizes Waterloo’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Mayor Dorothy McCabe expressed her pride and dedication to fostering an inclusive community. “Let’s kick off this month by recommitting ourselves to building a community where everyone can live authentically, feel valued, and are welcomed for being their true selves. So happy Pride Month, everyone,” McCabe stated during the event.

Symbol of Resilience

Last year, the rainbow crosswalk in Uptown Waterloo was vandalized during Pride Month. In response, the city restored the crosswalk, reaffirming its stance against hate and intolerance. Scott Williams, Spectrum’s Executive Director, emphasized the dual nature of Pride Month as both a celebration and a protest. “It’s great to celebrate how far we’ve come, but we acknowledge that there is still work to be done. As long as these acts of vandalism occur, we need to be more visible,” Williams remarked.

Artistic Expressions of Pride

Artwork Display

In addition to the crosswalk, the city unveiled 19 pieces of artwork that will adorn light poles on King St. and Willis Way. These pieces reflect what Pride means to the artists within the community. Divya Handa, Director of the city’s REDI (Reconciliation, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) team, highlighted the importance of these symbols. “We are here for the community, and this is important. It means something to the community, so we’re here to make sure we celebrate that with them,” Handa said.

Waterloo Mayor, Dorothy McCabe during the kick-off event. (May 31, 2024.)

Commitment to Diversity

Handa also noted Waterloo’s growth and its dedication to celebrating diversity. “Waterloo City is one of the most rapidly growing cities, and we want to celebrate and acknowledge that diversity. We want this event to express our well wishes and celebrate that diversity in our community,” she added.

Indigenous and LGBTQ2+ Representation

Indigenous Drum Circle

The event featured an Indigenous drum circle with members from Willow River Centre, enhancing the cultural richness of the celebration. Paulina Rodriguez, the REDI team’s anti-racism and social justice advocate, spoke on the importance of visibility for the two-spirit and LGBTQ2+ communities. “We have heard that it is great to have visibility through symbols like the crosswalk. It is a celebration of the community, and we’ve also heard calls about updating the flag to be more representative,” Rodriguez said.

Waterloo’s Pride Month Kick-Off event was a vibrant display of solidarity, resilience, and celebration. With the unveiling of the new rainbow crosswalk and community artwork, the city has taken a significant step in promoting inclusion and diversity. The event underscores the ongoing efforts needed to ensure that all community members feel safe, valued, and represented.

Last Update: June 1, 2024