UBC will not participate in the Vancouver Pride Parade this Sunday, despite receiving an invite from the Vancouver Pride Society.
The university has not said why it will not attend this year’s parade — the first since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement to The Ubyssey, Dr. Arig al Shaibah, the associate vice-president equity and inclusion, recognized the importance of participating in the Pride events and said students, professors and community groups at UBC are still welcome to participate on an individual basis.
Al Shaibah said the university has been doing other things to promote Pride events this year.
“While the University is not participating in the Pride Parade this year, UBC has been promoting engagement in Pride-month events, including the parade, as part of our commitment to fostering equity and inclusion,” al Shaibah wrote.
She added that UBC is planning a Pride Connect event, as well as its annual Pride event in September which was on hiatus due to the pandemic.
This is the second consecutive Pride Parade UBC will not participate in. In 2019, the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) rescinded the university’s invitation after it hosted an anti-sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) initiative speaker.
Michelle Fortin, the chair of the board of directors of the VPS, said the organization believed UBC needed to do some learning and change its policies before it could participate in another Pride Parade.
“When people are transphobic or anti-trans and [are] being able to speak at an esteemed institution like UBC, for us that that was a reflection that there was some learning that needed to happen at the university for them to participate [in the parade],” she said in a recent interview with The Ubyssey.
“[UBC was] given a bit of a template, maybe a partial roadmap, but they did the work,” she added. UBC revised its booking policy in 2020 to identify risks associated with events and to evaluate them through the lens of the BC Human Rights Code.
Fortin said that UBC’s work should be recognized, adding that marching in the Pride Parade would show Vancouverites that the university has changed.
“I think that the fact that they've done some soul searching, and really landed in a place that reflects social justice and human rights is important,” she said.