An enthusiastic delegation representing Ottawa’s Jewish community marched in this year’s Capital Pride Parade, August 26. Marchers included representatives of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), Hillel Ottawa, the Embassy of Israel and several congregations.
The parade is part of the annual Capital Pride Festival which is meant to “create a space for celebration, advocacy and education for dozens of community groups” with more than 60 community events across the region. Among the community events were a Shabbat dinner at Kehillat Beth Israel (KBI), co-sponsored by Federation, CIJA and KBI, attended by 115 people, and a Shabbat dinner at Temple Israel, attended by 60.
Allyson Grant, deputy director of government relations and Ottawa public affairs at CIJA, said the organization is “absolutely thrilled” with the turnout from the Jewish community. “It was especially meaningful to celebrate Pride together with representatives from so many organizations, as well as community members who came out on their own,” she said.
Jess Burke, a member of CIJA’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Council, said mobilizing Ottawa’s Jewish community for the Capital Pride Parade was “as simple as picking up the phone and talking to community members.”
“We quickly determined that the Jewish Federation of Ottawa and other partners wanted to march proudly together, and then we registered for our marching contingent with Capital Pride,” Burke said. “Beyond that, we also used email and social media to reach Ottawa’s Jewish community more broadly.”
Burke said the most noteworthy difference from last year’s parade was the turnout – with almost twice as many people from Ottawa’s Jewish community marching this year with “amazing energy.” Burke noted that Deputy Head of Mission Shlomit Sufa represented the Embassy of Israel at the parade.
Dovi Chein, director at Hillel Ottawa, said he had an “incredible” experience participating in Capital Pride for the first time, alongside 20 Hillel Ottawa students and other allies in the Jewish community.
“There are many Jewish students who feel like they don’t have a place in the Jewish community, or that they are not welcome within organized Judaism,” Chein said. “Today’s march showcased to all of our students that Hillel Ottawa is, has been, and always will be inclusive, accepting, and an ally to anyone who is LGBTQ2+.”
Burke, who was an organizer of the Ottawa Pride Shabbat Dinner at KBI, said the dinner was a “terrific event full of warmth, community, diversity and celebration.”
Burke added she would “love to see” even more community members participate in the Capital Pride Parade next year.
“I would also like to see the Jewish community continue its positive and important engagement with LGBTQ+ Jewish youth, adults, families and allies. And perhaps more glitter.”