Thousands of attendees lit up downtown for the Calgary Pride Parade with balloons, signs, all the colours of the rainbow and most of all, the attendee’s support. 

On Sunday, September 3, 2023, the parade commenced for its 32nd year. The first-ever Pride march occurred on June 16, 1991, and has grown from a grassroots collective to a staple non-profit organization in Calgary.  

The 2023 parade started at 11 a.m. along 9th Ave. and ended at Fort Calgary well past 12 noon. The procession seemingly carried on with hundreds of decorated floats bursting with balloons, signs, ribbons, flags and music.  

Calgary Pride was created in order to build an environment that is free from discrimination and fosters the continued learning of how to grow a just and inclusive society. For this reason, many businesses, organizations, associations and individuals who believe in the same philosophy have chosen to support Calgary Pride year after year. 

SAMRU, the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University, have participated in the Calgary Pride Parade for many years.

“We are an inclusive organization. Our mission is to represent and serve students to help them succeed,” said Lisa Antichow, Support Services Manager at SAMRU.

“We want to support all of our students, regardless of their sexual identity and their gender identity.”

lISA Antichow

SAMRU is the second-oldest student government in Alberta, existing for more than 100 years. The organization opened its Pride Centre in an effort to foster a safe and inclusive environment. 

MRU student Haly Balla said that as a student, it can be difficult to know where to find community that supports you, which is why the Pride Centre is so vital. 

“It’s really important to have the message out there that you can be who you are and there is a community for you, no matter who you are, what walk of life you’re coming from… that it’s okay to be who you are.” said Balla. “Just having that environment, I think is imperative to allow them to take up space, explore their identity and be surrounded by a community.”

For Calgary Pride this year, SAMRU had a float, marched in the parade and hosted a pre-parade tailgate party for students and staff. Those who attended the tailgate party got to decorate posters, have their faces painted and were given T-shirts in celebration of Pride.  

An attendee at the SAMRU pre-parade tailgate party got their face painted in celebration of Calgary Pride on Sept. 3, 2023. PHOTO:STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION OF MOUNT ROYAL UNIVERSITY.

Antichow drove the parade truck and noted that the large crowd was charged with happiness, enthusiasm, excitement and energy. 

Balla is a part-time staff member at SAMRU and also attended the parade with SAMRU. They said that it’s important for there to be opportunities within a university setting that celebrates and encourages the representation of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Balla described themself as a more mature student and said that at their age, having a space on campus to freely explore their own identity has been a huge part of their journey. 

“As a student, finding your identity and embracing who you are, and being ultimately who you are, is a big step,” said Balla. 

For those who attend the Pride Parade, it can often be a space of safety, security and acceptance where they can be themselves. 

“On a personal level, it felt very safe. It can be a surreal experience because you’re surrounded by communities that you don’t necessarily have [access to] all the time or you don’t know how to find,” said Balla. “Being able to connect with students who are in the same situation and just being surrounded by love and acceptance is a huge thing.”

Report an Error or Typo

Isabella West is a fourth-year Journalism student at MRU. She completed her work term over the summer of 2023 at LiveWire Calgary in partnership with the Calgary Journal.