A man holds a flag on a hockey stick during the Pride parade in Toronto on June 25, 2017. Police will march in this year’s Edmonton Pride festival, but not in uniforms.The Edmonton Pride Festival Society says they restricted enforcement vehicles, lights and sirens in the 2017 parade after a similar move was made in Toronto. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press)

Edmonton Pride Festival cancelled this year citing ‘current events’

Festival organizers have cancelled this year’s event, due to ‘current political and social environment.’

The organizers of the Edmonton Pride Festival have cancelled this year’s event, citing “current political and social environment.”

A letter from the board of directors says the decision was made with a “heavy heart,” adding there will be other community organizations putting on events in June.

The letter posted on the Edmonton Pride Festival Society’s website late Wednesday says its goal is to host a safe event encompassing of the entire community, something they say is not attainable this year.

The board of directors also say the festival will not be hosted this year because of current events, but do no elaborate.

The festival was scheduled for June 7, with the Pride parade taking place the following day.

Last year, the parade was halted for more than half an hour by demonstrators demanding organizers uninvite Edmonton police officers, the RCMP and military personnel from the event, amid a country-wide debate over the presence of police in Pride parades.

Protesters also distributed leaflets urging the festival society to “restructure its board and staff hiring practices to have more representation from people of colour and trans folks.”

The parade resumed after Pride organizers agreed to their demands.

Also in June last year leader of Alberta’s United Conservative Party said banning police and military personnel from Edmonton’s Pride parade is regrettable and should be reconsidered.

Jason Kenney said at an event last year the military made “great efforts to be inclusive in this respect and there’s a lot of proud gay and lesbian soldiers and police officers.”

“They deserve to be able to celebrate their service to our communities and to Canada without being attacked and marginalized,” he said.

Meanwhile in Toronto, uniformed police officers have been indefinitely barred from participating in the city’s Pride parade after a close vote that organizers said showed a deep division within the LGBTQ community.

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

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