By Jonathon Pukila

Organizers, volunteers, and distinguished guests assemble for a group photo outside City Hall on Monday after a flag-raising ceremony kicked off Thunder Pride 2013. The Thunder Pride flag was added to the Rainbow flag, raised last month in honour of the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. Now in its third year, Thunder Pride is “an opportunity for the LGBTQ2S community in Thunder Bay to show our Pride, and to allow our family members, friends and allies to showcase support and acceptance that is in our community,” Co-Chair Rev. Scott Gale stated.

Attending this event were Mayor Keith Hobbs, Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle, City Councillors Larry Hebert, Rebecca Johnson, and Paul Pugh, and local citizens. “Thunder Bay is a city where we can not only stand up proudly and proclaim all aspects of who we are, but we can go a step further. We can in fact celebrate the diversity of each and every community member.” said Thunder Pride Co-Chair Cynthia Olsen.

This year’s Thunder Pride will take place from June 9 – 16 and will feature a drag show, presentations by LGBTQ2S authors and guest speakers, as well as Thunder Bay’s first-ever Pride Parade. The Walleye will feature extensive coverage of Thunder Pride on our website. More information on these and other events can be found at

IMG_2923 - Keith HobbsMayor Keith Hobbs addresses the crowd before reading a proclamation officially declaring the week of June 9 – 16 as Thunder Pride Week in Thunder Bay. Hobbs spoke in support of the efforts his administration and council to make Thunder Bay an inclusive city. Hobbs also raised the possibility of a social strategy in future city planning.

IMG_2934 - GravelleHonourable Michael Gravelle, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, stated that he was proud to be part of a community “that is prepared to truly make [diversity and inclusiveness] part of the community’s goals and aspirations.” Gravelle also mentioned that Premier Kathleen Wynne, the province’s first openly gay premier “is one of the most remarkable people I know in terms of her goals of social justice [and] of actually being a premier who represents everyone in the province.”

Thunder Pride Co-Chair Reverend Scott Gale gave an introduction of the history of Pride Week, and informed the audience of Thunder Bay’s first-ever Pride Parade, taking place on Saturday, June 15 at Waverly Park at 11:45 AM. The route will proceed along Waverly Street along Red River Road until reaching Water Street, upon which the parade will head north until reaching Marina Park.

IMG_3089 - Flag RaisingMayor Keith Hobbs, Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle, and Thunder Pride Co-Chair Cynthia Olsen raising the flag at city hall.