#PROUD RBC Bluesfest volunteers to march at 2019 Capital Pride Parade

RBC Bluesfest organizers today announced that a group of Bluesfest volunteers—led by long-time festival volunteer and assistant area leader Fred Weatherbee—will be Marching in the 2019 Capital Pride Parade on August 25. As part of its ongoing evolution, The Team Behind Bluesfest is committed to fostering an organizational culture that respects and accommodates human differences, and which also recognizes and celebrates shared values.

Since the announcement in 2018 of RBC Bluesfest’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee—comprised of Board members from both Bluesfest and CityFolk, along with staff from the Team Behind Bluesfest—several equity and inclusion-led initiatives and strategies have been enacted. A couple of examples include the organization’s internal equity training, led by Dr. Karima Kara, along with community think tank sessions in conjunction with like-minded organizations in order to further evolve current offerings and promote access to diverse groups during our mutual events. “The Bluesfest organization’s hope is that others will follow our lead,” says RBC Bluesfest executive director, Mark Monahan.

“Given the formation of the Diversity and Inclusion committee, I wanted to bring to the table the suggestion of marching in the Capital Pride Parade,” adds Fred Weatherbee. “I’ve personally found that since making myself more visibly ‘out’ to my fellow volunteers as queer and trans, I’ve seen a ripple effect among volunteers who now comfortably share stories about their partners with other team members, having healthy discussions, and even asking advice.”

Established in 1986, the Capital Pride Parade creates opportunities to celebrate, advocate, educate, and connect people, respecting the full diversity of the 2SLGBTQ+ Community in Canada’s Capital. According to the University of Winnipeg, 2S indicates “Two Spirit” to acknowledge that Two Spirit Indigenous people were the first sexual and gender minority people in North America, and also to demonstrate solidarity with them in this period of truth and reconciliation in Canada.

A group of marchers, led by Fred Weatherbee, will include a team of volunteer area leaders, assistants and supervisors, who will march next to the Bluesfest limo. All other Bluesfest volunteers and supporters – past and present – are invited to join the march.

“As an organization, it is imperative that we reflect the truly diverse landscape of Ottawa, and to accomplish this we have to be as inclusive and as dynamic as possible. Supporting Fred and other volunteers and supporters during this Parade is one way we hope to further inclusion at an organizational level. We are also looking forward to engaging Fred beyond the Parade, as we build several initiatives to engage members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.” ~ Zainab Muse, Chair, Diversity & Inclusion Committee, RBC Bluesfest.

To register to join our team at the march, supporters can register today via: https://bit.ly/2GFo1sz

To follow the journey of our volunteers at Capital Pride Parade, engage with our social media channels via @ottawabluesfest.

You can connect with the Diversity & Inclusion Committee directly via: www.ottawabluesfest.ca/diversity-and-inclusion