Stratford-Perth Pride and Stratford Pride Community Centre exploring a potential unification to offer more support in Perth County  - Grant Haven
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Stratford-Perth Pride and Stratford Pride Community Centre exploring a potential unification to offer more support in Perth County 

Stratford-Perth Pride and Stratford Pride Community Centre exploring a potential unification to offer more support in Perth County 

Amanda Modaragamage

After listening to the community’s vision for 2SLGBTQIA+ collaboration in Stratford and Perth County, Melissa Marcelissen, Stratford-Perth Pride (SPP) Board Chair and Brock Hart, Stratford Pride Community Centre (SPCC) Board Chair, would like to officially announce the boards have begun a process towards potential unification of the two organizations. 

The goal for unification is to offer the community a more simplistic plan for support and recognition throughout the region by combining current resources, such as funding, volunteers and administration duties. 

“There is so much we must do to continue our work,” said Hart. “We believe that if we become one PRIDE, it will decrease confusion about who does what and, ultimately, extend our community impact toward living joyfully without fear.” 

Although support for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community seemingly has come a long way over the years, 2SLGBTQIA+ community groups across the province are still underfunded and under-supported by local, provincial and federal governments. 

“When we hear from students specifically, they’re still facing a lot. It’s still not easy to be a queer kid in Stratford. As adults, it’s really easy to think things are so much better because we talk more openly than we did in the past. but I think day to day, it’s important to hear from the youth about their experiences.”

Earlier this year, the two boards unanimously voted to support the potential unification and enter into phase one of a three-phase process. 

During phase one of the potential unification process, SPPC and SPP will focus on exploring the work, which will focus on conducting a comparative analysis of the two organizations and developing a conceptual model of how they would serve the region in an impactful way through as one organization going forward.

“We want to be really diligent about listening over the next couple of months to what the community needs and wants from us,” said Marcelissen, “We want to continue to do what we’ve been doing but also listen to what the community says to meet their needs the best.” 

Hart continued, “We really want to use the first phase as an opportunity to step back and truly listen to what our community needs. This is the most important step in learning how to move forward with unifying the two organizations.” 

Favourite events, such as Stratford Winter Pride and the Pride March will still run as always but with conjoined resources, Hart explains, the organization will be less strapped for volunteers, financial resources, and administration in the future as a result of unification. 

“We will be able to offer more serices and better resources to the community, and by unifying, we can deepen our impact on the community in a much broader way.”

PPCC and SPP are excited to join forces and create a space that offers community leadership and will also be a trailblazer for other rural communities, setting precedence for 2SLGBTQIA+ support within the region.  

“Our community needs are just different,” said Marcelissen, “Being a rural area, we just don’t have the same support and resources as those in larger cities would have.”

 The community can expect joint social media platforms, websites and advertising in the future, but for now, everyone is still invited to visit either www.stratfordpride.com or www.stratfordperthpride.com for more information or to keep in touch with each organization. 

“Stratford is known as the ‘Queerest Little Town in Canada,” and if we could figure out a way to make it the safest and most accepting town, that would be amazing,” said Hart. 

Both Pride organizations will remain completely committed to serving their communities through events and programs. 

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