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Pride society sponsors Indigenous bands to play events in the Okanagan

The South Okanagan Similkameen Pride Society plans Pride events for their region
A young child enjoys the festivities of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band Pride Carnival (Contributed Aaron Hemens / IndigiNews).

The arrival of June marks the end of spring, but for those who identify as queer or Indigenous, it’s an important time for celebration and reconciliation.

Heather Adamson has been the communications director for the South Okanagan Similkameen (SOS) Pride for four years. She said that her favourite part of her job is connecting with the communities.

“I just love supporting the community and building relationships and just learning about how we can better support the 2SLGBTQI population here in the South Okanagan Similkameen,” Adamson said.

On June 16, SOS Pride planned two events that recognized both Indigenous and queer folks; one took place in Hedley, the other in Keremeos.

Adamson said that the Upper Similkameen Indian Band Pride Parade and the Lower Similkameen Indian Band Pride Carnival were led by the Indigenous communities, but were funded by SOS Pride.

“It’s just a really wonderful event that we feel so grateful to be a part of and be there participating and supporting,” Adamson said.

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Adamson said that this event was a great bridge between two communities that have been experiencing extended hate, especially online.

“The fact is the rights and freedoms afforded to our community are still fairly new in terms of legislation and government policy, there’s still some very deeply held societal discriminations that exist and that perpetuate,” Adamson said.

“So it’s still extremely important that we’re raising awareness about equity and inclusion and diversity policies.”

Madeline Terbasket volunteers for SOS Pride and works with the Lower Similkameen Indian Band. They said that the goal for this carnival was to create a safe space for Two-Spirit folks.

Terbasket appreciates the sponsorship from SOS Pride, and loved seeing all of the children being happy in their own skin.

“You could just see all the joy, it was really amazing,” Terbasket said.

“And there’s so many kids there. I just wish I had that as a kid and I knew it was something to celebrate.”

Terbasket and Adamson both know how important events like these are for the communities. They are looking forward to future events put on by SOS Pride. Coming up in September is the Pride Arts Festival.

”Our mission is to highlight to LGBTQ, Black, Indigenous and racialized communities for that for that festival,” said Adamson.

“And so there’s dancers, singers, bands, like poets and visual artists.”

The event will take place on September 23 at the Gyro Park in Osoyoos.