Mayo, Yukon pride parade 'epitomizes community' organizer says

Beverley Blanchard, right, and her daughter celebrate their late loved one Natasha in Mayo's pride parade. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC - image credit)
Beverley Blanchard, right, and her daughter celebrate their late loved one Natasha in Mayo's pride parade. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC - image credit)

A student in Mayo, Yukon was the driving force for a pride parade in the community and says its in honour of her late aunt.

The village of about 500 hosted the event on Friday with over 50 people gathering at the J.V. Clarke School to celebrate the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

Tara McCauley, the school's vice principal, said Ava Young began asking if the school could host the event two years ago. This year, McCauley said the school was able to make it happen.

"Ava is a little bit shy, but really she was the driving force behind this," McCauley said.

Dozens of people gathered at the J.V. Clarke School for the pride parade and a barbecue to celebrate the 2SLGBTQ+ community. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC)

Young's family celebrated the life of a loved one at the parade.

Beverley Blanchard, said her daughter Natasha — Young's aunt — died last year, and one of her dreams had been to celebrate pride and inclusivity as a community.

"She was really the first one to come out with being gay here in the community," Blanchard said.

Blanchard said her daughter was ridiculed for years, but over time the community began to accept her and her sexuality. Blanchard said she always respected her daughter not hiding who she was.

She said Natasha would have been proud to see the community's first parade.

"She would have been busy hugging everybody up and taking it all in and glad that we're all together today for her."

'We all depend on each other'

McCauley said people are already asking about making the parade annual.

"This really epitomizes the sense of community and Mayo and everyone coming out and pitching in and working together to do something really fabulous." she said.

"Especially in a small community, we all depend on each other to hold each other up."

Ava Young, left, was a driving force in spearheading the parade according to the school's vice principal Tara McCauley, right.
Ava Young, left, was a driving force in spearheading the parade according to the school's vice principal Tara McCauley, right.

Ava Young, left, was a driving force in spearheading the parade according to the school's vice principal Tara McCauley, right. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC)

Finley Parkes, the operational manager with Queer Yukon, travelled from Whitehorse for the event. They said seeing the push for the parade come from students is especially meaningful. Seeing folks represented from across the 2SLGBTQ+ spectrum helps young people feel like they can be themselves, Parkes said.

"If I would have seen more people like me, I wouldn't have transitioned in my late 20s, maybe I would have done it a lot earlier and felt a lot more comfortable in myself," they said.

Finley Parkes is with Queer Yukon. They said events like the Mayo parade create an opportunity to educate residents about the 2SLGBTQ+ community. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC)

"To see kids coming out and grabbing pronoun pins and knowing how they identify at this age, it's just like, makes my little queer inner child so happy."

Parkes said discrimination and criticism that those within the 2SLGBTQ+ community face often comes from a place of not knowing.

Events like the parade in Mayo are a way of coming together as a community, being visible, answering questions and helping to break down barriers, they said.