Ontario premier, party leaders launch Toronto Pride Parade
The music and vibrant colours of Canada's largest Pride Parade celebration took over Toronto's downtown streets this afternoon as thousands came out to celebrate the 33rd annual event.
"It's just exciting. There's a great vibe and of course the weather is great," said Ming Yao, an Australian who was taking part in his first pride parade.
Yao and his friend Alex Wells are with the Toronto Triggerfish, one of the largest queer water polo teams in the world.
Wells, whose was marching in his fourth pride parade, said the community support keeps him coming back each year.
"When you're used to kind of hiding, or kind of being ashamed, this one day where everyone is there cheering and saying 'it's amazing that you're here', being part of the parade just reinforces that," he said.
Political leaders attend service
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau were among those in attendance at a church service held before festivities.
Wynne, who is Ontario's first openly gay premier, called the service "inspirational" and a central part of the city's Pride celebrations.
"Jane and I have been coming to this church service for 20 years. It is for me a really central part of this celebration," said Wynne. "The music is inspirational It gives people a sense of community and being together. So, it’s very important to me that I be here."
The outdoor event, which focused on the theme of "celebrating everyone," saw people waving rainbow flags and dancing to music as they packed the church grounds.
"It's wonderful to see such celebration, such positivity, and such pride," Trudeau said. "We have a community here that is fighting for rights, awareness and equality. This is what we stand for as a country and this is what we need to continue fighting for."
New Democrat MPs Craig Scott and Olivia Chow were also in attendance and joined Mulcair and other Toronto-area politicians on the NDP float in the parade.
"It's the biggest parade and it's a joyous occasion," said Mulcair, wearing a spirited purple Hawaiian lei. "Celebrating people's rights, breaking down barriers in our society and including everyone, it's fantastic."
With files from The Canadian Press