Rainbow Art Gallery & Pride Awards 2015

The local LGBTQ+ community came out to celebrate those that have made an impact on the lives of others during the annual Pride Awards!

By Emil Tiedemann

WITH the recent shooting death of Cst. Daniel Woodall, it's hard to imagine a Pride celebration while the whole city mourns for a fallen officer. Then again, how could we not?!

The 2015 Rainbow Art Gallery & Pride Awards was Wednesday, June 10

Woodall, a husband and father of two, was a member of the Edmonton Police Service's Hate Crime Unit, the very division that investigates crime and violence against members of the local queer community, as well as other minority groups.

In fact, there's a chance that Woodall may have been right there alongside his fellow officers and the very folks he helps to protect, at the annual Rainbow Art Gallery & Pride Awards last Wednesday (June 10) at the ATB Financial Arts Barns in Old Strathcona

Some of his EPS comrades were at the celebration, recognizing the most talented, generous and/or hard working LGBTQ+ Edmontonians and their allies. And so, like Woodall probably would have insisted, the celebration went on.

Paintings by local artist Emilie Lamache
One of the many beautiful & unique sculptures by LGBTQ+ artists

There were about a dozen LGBTQ+ artists at the ceremony showcasing their paintings, sculptures, and graphics, as well as music from Edmonton alternative band Vera, who also recently performed at Jasper Pride in March. 

At around 8:00, the Awards began, MC'd by Dinner Television alumni Claire Hanna. Former MLA Laurie Blakeman presented Pride Certificates to the City of Edmonton Youth Council and Nait Student Engagement for their work towards Gay-Straight Alliances and their support of LGBTQ+ youth. 

14-year-old Caeleah Bartosek was one of the first and most outspoken champions against former Premier Jim Prentice's introduction of Bill 10, which was later revised following much controversy over its not-so-gay-friendly guidelines.

Her bravery and advocacy was honoured with the HIV Edmonton Youth Leadership Award, presented to her by HIV Edmonton's Executive Director Shelley Williams.

14-year-old Caeleah Bartosek wins HIV Edmonton Youth Leadership Award

When he put on his red uniform and black boots as the only RCMP officer walking in last year's Pride Parade, Sgt. Mike Lokken garnered much attention and respect from his colleagues and the queer community.

Lokken wore his red and black again when he humbly accepted the EPS Sexual Minorities Community Liaison Award. "There are so many more-deserving individuals right here in this room," he remarked. "Thank you!"

Sgt. Mike Lokken won the EPS Sexual Minorities Community Liaison Award

EPFS Board member Lynne Kaiser then presented Sherwood Park's altView Foundation with the Larry Sand Award, an honour that recognizes a business or organization that has made significant contributions to the local LGBTQ+ community over a number of years. 

Sherwood Park's altView Foundation won the Larry Sand Award

The Imperial Sovereign Court of the Wild Rose, who have raised many thousands of dollars for countless groups & organizations over the last four decades, were proud to accept the Outstanding Volunteer Award, presented to them by the Pride Centre of Edmonton's Mickey Wilson

The ISCWR won the Outstanding Volunteer Award

Wilson himself was then presented with the Lifetime Achivement Award from the one and the only Michael Phair, for his endless work in the transgender and queer community of Edmonton. Wilson, the current Executive Director of the Pride Centre, has also worked to spread equality on a provincial and even national level, serving on various boards and committees over the last three decades. 

Pride Centre's Mickey Wilson won the Lifetime Achievement Award

Before the end of the evening, Edmonton Pride Festival Chair Colleen Sutherland announced a surprise honour for the "fabulous Laurie Blakemen," who left the stage in tears and into the arms of an adoring crowd. Blakeman has long been a strong and loud ally and advocate for Edmonton's queer population, as has her husband City Councillor Ben Henderson

Michael Phair congratulating LGBTQ+ advocate Laurie Blakeman

What a fabulous evening in deed, and one that was seemingly even more important than past ceremonies, in light of Cst. Woodall's death. This celebration proves that his passing was not in vain. 

- Lifetime Achievement Award: Mickey Wilson
- Outstanding Volunteer Award: ISCWR
- Larry Sand Award: the altView Foundation
- EPS Sexual Minorities Community Liaison Award: Sgt. Mike Lokken
- HIV Edmonton Youth Leadership Award: Caeleah Bartosek
- Pride Certificates (2): City of Edmonton Youth Council and NAIT Student Engagement

Congratulations to all of the winners! RIP, Cst. Daniel Woodall. #EPSstrong #yegpride

Cst. Daniel Woodall, RIP


Popular posts from this blog

The Ultimate Edmonton Donair Guide

Reason #52 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Did You Know? (Boston Pizza)