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Gay pride festival organizers say premier's attendance 'a huge milestone'
Linda Hoang, ctvedmonton.ca
Published Monday, June 4, 2012 9:22AM MDT
For the first time in its 32-year history, Edmonton's pride parade will be attended by Alberta's leader.
Premier Alison Redford has accepted an invitation to speak to thousands set to gather in Churchill Square on June 9 for the Edmonton Pride Festival.
"This is a huge milestone for us," said Colleen Sutherland, co-chair of the Edmonton Pride Festival Society.
"It's saying to us that we are being accepted by the government. It's saying to us that the gay, lesbian and transgendered community is just as important as any other community and no different than any other walk of life so we're very honoured to have her there."
A spokesperson for Redford wouldn't say why it's taken three decades for a provincial leader to attend the event, but says Redford is happy to accept the invitation.
"Something Premier Redford has always said is that a premier has a responsibility to represent all Albertans," said Kim Misik, press secretary for the Premier's office.
"She sees Alberta as a welcoming, inclusive place for all of us and if that's the message reflected by her participation next weekend, then that's a positive thing.
Redford will greet the Edmonton Pride Festival on Saturday in Sir Winston Churchill Square at around 2:30 p.m.
A spokesperson for Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith confirmed late Sunday evening that the leader would also be attending the Pride Parade.
Several city councillors will also be in attendance.
"I think it makes a difference when the government steps up and says everyone needs to be treated the same," Sutherland said.
"We invite everybody whether you're a supporter or a non-supporter," Sutherland said.
"That's the one thing that we're proud of. Our arms are open."
The pride parade and festival brings as many as 25,000 people onto Edmonton streets.
With files from Sean Amato