Edmonton Pride events this weekend were smaller and more political, but no less important, participants say.

A march at Louise McKinney Park marked the 39th anniversary of the first Pride march in Alberta’s capital city.

In previous years, the Pride celebration has taken the form of a parade. But controversy in 2018 lead to the Edmonton Pride Society deciding to cancel the event in April.

“There's reasons why the event was canceled and they're reasonable,” march organizer Phillip Goncalvez told CTV News Edmonton. “Because if everyone's voice isn't heard, we need to make sure we're working towards making that happen.”

The community organized events in place of the parade, but the 2019 turnout was smaller. And while the color and festivity was as present as other years, a participant said Saturday’s march felt different.

“I’m just here because of the political climate this year, and I think it’s important to stand up,” Neil Flewwelling said.

He said he was attending for the first time to speak out against Alberta’s newest government, among whose first actions has been to propose changes to school gay-straight alliances and disband a group working to ban conversion therapy.

Goncalvez told CTV News Edmonton he attempted to reach some politicians, but “didn’t really get much feedback or support.”

At the Edmonton Pride Community Street Festival on 103 Street, Notley called on Premier and UCP Leader Jason Kenney to step up.

“It's not acceptable that Jason Kenney's UCP is going after GSAs,” Notley said.

“It is not acceptable that they are going to open these kids up to being outed.”

Goncalvez believes the community needs Pride more than ever.

“There are still marginalized voices that need to be heard,” he said.

“You can't take Pride out of Edmonton. We're still here.”

With files from Timm Bruch