June is Pride Month in Saskatoon. In the lead up to the Pride Festival, Saskatoon Pride, OUTSaskatoon, and the Saskatoon Police Service have been working together on both operational and police participation plans to ensure another successful Pride Parade.
The goal of all involved in the conversation is to ensure that the primary focus of Pride Month was the LGBTQ2S+ community, including celebrating its strengths and working to overcome barriers people still face, over and above undue media attention around police involvement in the Pride Parade.
"We heard the community’s concerns. Together, with the police and local LGBTQ2S+ community organization (OUTSaskatoon), we had conversations to give a voice to those often not heard and who feel a uniform can be a barrier. We collectively made a decision with the Police for their members to walk in Saskatoon Police golf-shirts to stand in solidarity and eliminate those barriers. Appropriately, our theme this year is 'Bridging Communities.' We all hope that this act will truly bridge our communities." -Connor Rodriguez, Saskatoon Pride Co-Chair.
"The SPS is pleased to participate in the Saskatoon Pride Parade again in 2018. Our Service does not want to contribute to any barriers. As such, we will proudly walk in the parade to represent the SPS, just not in traditional uniform. Whether we are in uniform or not we serve all citizens of all genders and sexual orientations. We are committed to reflecting that in our day-to-day operations." -Police Chief Troy Cooper.
"For the LGBTQ2S+ community, this is a continued step forward to building trust in SPS. There is still work to do, but having had these honest conversations all together, plays a big part in growing our relationship.” -Amy Rees, Saskatoon Pride Co-chair.
"We have a year-round relationship with the Saskatoon Police Service that extends well beyond the Pride Parade. This relationship includes training, policy advisement, support calls, and critical conversations, and is something that we have all been working on for a long time. To have three groups come together like this represents a momentous event for all involved and is a testament to the relationships that we have built." -Rachel Loewen Walker, Executive Director, OUTSaskatoon.
Here are some of the initiatives that have shaped our collaborative relationship:
- OUTSaskatoon has sat on the Saskatoon Police Advisory Committee on Diversity for over a decade
- SPS unveiled their new building in 2014, which includes single-person holding cells for detainees, rather than multi-person holding cells that are segregated by gender
- In 2016, SPS consulted with OUTSaskatoon and members of the Trans community when rewriting their Detention Search Policy
- SPS consulted with OUTSaskatoon and the LGBTQ2S+ community on the creation of a gender neutral washroom for the main lobby, which was then unveiled in September of 2016
- In November of 2016, OUTSaskatoon provided training to the Police Executive on the history of the relationship between LGBTQ2S+ communities and policing, including a discussion of ways to engage in policing practices that are informed and inclusive of LGBTQ2S+ people
- In March of 2017, OUTSaskatoon provided the same training to all police officers within the Saskatoon Police Service.
For more information:
Saskatoon Pride – Amy Rees and Connor Rodriguez (Co-Chairs) – 639-317-4982
OUTSaskatoon – Rachel Loewen Walker (Executive Director) – 306-665-1224
Saskatoon Police Service – Media inquiries – 306-657-5655