Our queer liberation isn’t as far in the past as many believe. In fact, the first queer organization in the NWT wasn’t founded until 1997!
While organizations have only existed since 1997, queer people, particularly Indigiqueer and Two Spirit people, have called the North home forever. They have been fighting to build a safer North for queer people since the beginning, even if they aren’t named in the history books.
In 1997, OutNorth was created. Much of their successes can be attributed to their political lobbying. OutNorth successfully lobbied for same-sex adoption in 1998, for protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in 2002, and for the legalization of same sex marriage in 2005.
As part of their outreach, OutNorth used to distribute cake in front of the Yellowknife Post Office to people in community. In 2013, during the first NWT Pride festival, volunteers did the same. This tradition continues today! Yellowknife Pride’s « Cupcakes for Commemoration » is happening on July 27th 2023.
In 2007, OutNorth closed it’s doors. In 2011, the Northern Mosaic Network was founded (under the name « It Gets Better Yellowknife » and eventually « Rainbow Coalition of Yellowknife »). In 2013, NWT Pride was founded. Following NWT Pride’s dissolution in 2019, the Northern Mosaic Network supported a group of volunteers to start Yellowknife Pride.
Today, the Northern Mosaic Network, along with Qmunity Camp, are providing support, mentorship, and community to 2SLGBTQIPA+ people across the Northwest Territories. Yellowknife Pride, along with Prides across the NWT, celebrate our community with art, music and parades.
Today, as we celebrate Yellowknife’s first ever pride parade, it is important to look back and remember the history that led us here. As we celebrate these successes, let’s remember that our work is not done! Let us bravely stand against the growing wave of anti-queer hate and rally around those most affected in our community.
History of 2SLGBTQ+ Communities in the NWT
- ‘Small town in a good way’ – Gay and fabulous in Yellowknife (Xtra Magazine)
- NWT Pride came out for a great weekend (YKOnline.ca)
- OutNorth Archives (NWT Archives)
- Pride just south of Arctic Circle in Normal Wells, NWT (Xtra Magazine)
- NWT Pride dissolving, handing off responsibilities to [Northern Mosaic Network] (CBC News)
- Storming the City with Rainbows (EdgeNorth)
- Come Hang With Us: A History of Pride (EdgeNorth)
Jacq is the CEO & Principal Consultant at i+d. With over 10 years of experience in the non-profit sector, they’re love thinking up creative ways to challenge the norms while still getting things done.
You can usually find Jacq drinking Diet Pepsi and watching something great on Netflix when they’re not working.