Monday, July 22, 2024

Pontiac Pride Festival held at Esprit Rafting

Tom McCann
Davidson Sept. 10, 2023
Jim Coffey and his staff hosted Pontiac Pride’s community festival at the amazing Esprit Rafting property in Davidson on Sunday. Coffey not only gave the use of the facilities, he and his staff did everything possible to ensure the safety of festival organizers, participants and visitors in the water and on land. Coffey has strong beliefs in the need for a safe and less inclusive society and, as with everything else he does, he leads by example.
According to Christine Rieux, the Pontiac Pride Festival, originally scheduled for June 10, encountered various challenges, including security issues. Ultimately, the organizing committee had no safe alternative other than to postpone the event, not least due to the extremely poor air quality caused by the Quebec wildfires.
In contrast, the Esprit Rafting facilities on the warm fall day was a perfect place for the family-oriented event.
After a few words from Michele Gagnon, committee member, to get things started, the microphone was passed to Sophie Chatel, Liberal MP for Pontiac, who spoke about a less exclusionary society and how more people, non-political and political alike, need to get involved. Her time at the microphone was short, not overtly political and was very well received by the people in attendance.
Zak Zinya was the emcee for a family-friendly drag show that followed the brief speeches and included the talents of Katarina Jones who, out of drag, is a senior high school student, and Toxxic Waist. To say the trio was colourful would be an understatement but they were quite entertaining in the park-like setting along the shores of the Ottawa River. The performers enjoyed a canoe ride on the water when their show was over.
The event had booths set up not by vendors but groups offering support and, not just for the 2SLGTBQ+ community, but for society as a whole. Connexions Resource, among their other programs, offer assistance to those seeking access to medical and mental health services. Entre Hommes is a support group for men of any age looking for mental or moral support as they navigate what, for a lot of them, is a new world as they open up. The day included other family-oriented activities such as a bouncy castle and access to the amazing Esprit’s river facilities.
Visitors largely came from the Ottawa/Gatineau to Pembroke corridor, but at least one carload came all the way from Montreal. The explanation for the drive was, “I spent time here years ago and I just had to bring my friends to see this area.”
It was a truly enjoyable afternoon organized by the local pride committee, their family and friends along the banks of the Ottawa River with nothing but happiness, safety and togetherness on the agenda.


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