In a show of support by the Canadian Armed Forces, CFB Edmonton became the first forces base in North America to fly the pride flag Friday.

The man behind the move, Master Warrant Officer John McDougall, has been part of the Canadian military for more than two decades.

“Twenty-three years ago when I joined the military, I wouldn’t have whispered that I was gay,” McDougall said.

In 2013, the rainbow-striped flag marks how much things have changed.

McDougall put in the request to raise the flag with the armed forces three weeks ago, to coincide with Pride Week.

“When he first told me about his request, I was like, ‘This is the person to do it,’ he’s always been proud of his job, he’s always been proud of who he is,” McDougall’s partner, Dave Gilbert, said.

To McDougall’s surprise, the base agreed to fly the flag.

“At the end of the day, again it’s the right thing,” Lt. Col. John Reiffenstein said. “It’s called the pride flag for a reason and we are proud, and I’m proud to have sent it up today.”

For the Master Warrant Officer, he hopes the flag shows the Canadian Armed Forces promotes inclusiveness, equality and dignity, for all Canadians – no matter what.

“It’s not an agenda to push forward,” McDougall said. “It’s not a soap box to stand on, it’s just that this base is open and inclusive and willing to allow us to fly our flag.”

Pride events in Edmonton begin Friday night, the official kick-off parade starts at noon Saturday, beginning at 102 Avenue and 107 Street, heading east towards Churchill Square.

With files from Ashley Molnar