Canada Pride Survival Guide

Richard Burnett

Montréal will host the inaugural Fierté Canada Pride parade and festival in August, as the city also celebrates its 375th birthday and Canada marks 150 years of Confederation. Organized by Montréal Pride and modelled on EuroPride and WorldPride, Canada Pride Montréal 2017 is expected to draw over 750,000 spectators from August 10 to 20.

Canada Pride Montréal 2017 will feature a sports tournament, two international LGBTQ human rights conferences, as well as an unprecedented choice of over 200 activities, including DJ sets and free large-scale concerts every night.

Some 80 Pride organizations from across Canada will also take part in the August 20 Pride parade. Says Montréal Pride president Eric Pineault, “Canada’s Pride organizations are all part of a powerful movement, serving as examples to the world in the struggle for LGBTQ human rights.”

Below are some tips and highlights to help you survive and thrive at Canada Pride Montréal 2017:

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Free outdoor shows

Highlights include a concert by Canadian pop icon Nelly Furtado on August 18; Montréal is proud, presented by Sirius XM Canada, with Gregory Charles and Marie-Mai on August 11; Supernovas with rock stars David Usher and Jonas on August 16; Drag Superstars starring 12 contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race – including 2017 winner Sasha velour – on August 17; Québec drag icon Mado Lamotte’s 30th anniversary celebration on August 12; Montréal drag legend Michel Dorion hosts her annual Illusion drag extravaganza showcasing drag stars from across Canada – including the 85-year-old Canadian doyenne of drag, Michelle DuBarry – on August 19; and the post-parade Mega T-Dance on August 20 kicks off at 1 p.m.

These free outdoor shows will be presented at Parc des Faubourgs, the festival’s new principal outdoor venue at the Eastern end of Montréal’s Gay Village, which can accommodate 30,000 spectators. The second site for performances and dancing remains at Place Émilie-Gamelin, well known to Montréal Pride festival goers, located at the Western end of Montréal’s Gay Village.

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Just Follow The Rainbow

Between Parc des Faubourgs and Place Émilie-Gamelin is the lively one-kilometre-long Aire Libres pedestrian mall on Rue Sainte-Catherine in the Gay Village, which is filled with patios and LGBTQ establishments to suit all tastes and thirsts, all located beneath renowned landscape architect Claude Cormier’s hugely popular rainbow-coloured installation 18 Shades of Gay, which is made of 180,000 suspended resin balls.

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Pride is about more than just parties

Canada Pride Montréal 2017 features cultural activities like film screenings, museum exhibitions, literary readings, a porn stars panel and an outdoor exhibition at Parc des Faubourgs highlighting LGBTQ milestones in the history of Montréal and Canada. There is also a full program for women – including The L March on August 13 – and trans people.

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Canada Pride Montréal 2017 is children-friendly

Got kids? Bring them to Kids Day on August 17. Activities for children aged 3 to 12. Free snacks and refreshments also provided. There are plenty of other activities for youth, including Pride Day at La Ronde amusement park. Community Day in the Village is on August 19, and the August 20 Pride parade is a crowd-pleaser for all ages, with plenty of families marching with community groups.

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Sports Tournament and two LGBTQ Human Rights Conferences

Participants can register for the sports tournament (August 11 to 13) which will feature seven sports: badminton, rugby, soccer, softball, tennis, volleyball and water-polo.

Canada Pride Montréal 2017 will also host two human rights conferences: LGBTTIQA2S Lives: Our Struggles, Our Victories, Our Challenges will assess the state of LGBTTIQA2S rights in Canada, from August 15 to 17; and the French-language Equality & Legality International Conference on Sexual & Gender Diversity in the Francophonie will take place on August 18.

Montréal Pride VP Jean-Sébastien Boudreault says Canada Pride Montréal 2017 will be more diverse and inclusive, with a strong presence of Indigenous Peoples.

“We are honoured to have an important and representative contingent to lead off the Parade as well as for the opening and closing ceremonies of the national conference on LGBTTIQA2S rights,” says Boudreault. “Before each event, we will recognize that the lands on which we are assembled for Canada Pride Montréal 2017 are located on the unceded territories of the Kanien’keha:ka (Mohawks).”

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Pride Dos and Don’ts

Charge your smart phone: A fully-charged phone is essential to keep in contact with friends, partners or significant others – and to share your magic moments! Plus, the Village was the first commercial sector of Montréal to offer free Wi-Fi access. Don’t forget to tag your tweets and photos with #MTLmoments and #fiertemtl.   

Carry some spending money: It’s always a good idea to have cash on hand to buy a cool beverage, a snack or a souvenir. If you need a little extra, the TD Bank, Canada Pride Montréal 2017’s presenting sponsor, has mobile ATMs at Parc des Faubourgs and Place Émilie-Gamelin. There are also five banks with ATMs in the Village.

Pick a good spot to watch the parade: The August 20 parade begins at noon and runs east along René-Lévesque Boulevard from Drummond to Alexandre-de-Seve streets. The crowds lining the 2.5 kilometre parade route are thinner at the beginning of the parade and get extremely crowded near the end. Pick a good spot – such as around Bleury Street where spectators can watch from the grassy hill at the SNC Lavalin Park – and go early.

Observe the Moment of Silence at the Pride parade at 1:30 p.m., to honour LGBTQ pioneers and those we have lost to violence and AIDS.

Use public transportation. Parking in downtown Montréal – especially during the parade – is tough. Parc des Faubourgs and Place Émilie-Gamelin are located near either Papineau or Berri Métro stations and, of course, the rainbow columns of Beaudry Métro station lead the way into the heart of the Village.

Wear comfortable shoes, bring water, sunblock, sunglasses and hats.

Make plans to party somewhere post-parade, such as at ticketed and associated Montréal Pride events.

Diversify Your Adventures: While you’re in Montréal, visit the new Grande Roue in the Old Port, the Barbie Museum downtown (free admission) or ride a BIXI bicycle to LGBTQ and queer-friendly establishments outside the Village. Or take a self-guided tour of Historical Queer Montréal.

Montréal Pride hosts the inaugural Canada Pride Montréal 2017 festival from August 10 to 20. For more information, visit www.fiertemontrealpride.com.

Richard Burnett

Richard Burnett, blogger

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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