Message from the President: Let's celebrate Pride and the PEI Pride Festival together
Dear Members of the UPEI Community,
Today marks the beginning of the PEI Pride Festival. While Pride Month is celebrated in June in many areas of Canada, we recognize Pride on PEI and at the University of Prince Edward Island in July as part of the national summer-long “Pride season.” Every year, Pride PEI—a not-for-profit organization that celebrates and promotes inclusion and diversity and educates and advocates on behalf of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community—organizes an annual festival, which this year runs from July 21 to 30.
One of the signature events of the Festival is the Pride Parade, when individuals, families, friend groups, and organizations join a colourful line-up to walk through the streets of Charlottetown. Thanks to the leadership of the UPEI Student Union, and efforts by UPEI Campus Life, UPEI Alumni, and the UPEI Faculty Association to promote participation, UPEI will have a strong community presence at the parade. I hope everyone will join in as we gather on parade day, Saturday, July 29, at 11:00 am, in the parking lot on Terry Fox Drive behind the provincial government buildings. Look for the Panther Patrol van! The parade begins at 12:00 pm and ends approximately at 12:30 pm.
UPEI will also recognize the PEI Pride Festival by flying the Progress Pride Flag at the flag plaza near Kelley Memorial Building and at UPEI Alumni Canada Games Place all next week. You may have also noticed the recent addition of the Progress Pride rainbow colours to the pedestrian crosswalk near the W.A. Murphy Student Centre and quadrangle (thank you to the Facilities Management team for making that happen, and for touching up the Pride flag painted on the steps outside the Student Centre).
While some may view these actions of raising a flag or painting a crosswalk as hollow gestures, they are symbolic of UPEI's commitment to removing barriers and welcoming everyone to the University. These symbols are important as they demonstrate an official declaration of support for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. However, we must always strive to do more and work together to create spaces where everyone knows they can fully participate and belong.
UPEI values equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), and all that makes each of us unique, including sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. We are grateful for the contributions of UPEI community members engaged in EDI academics and research, support services, and advocacy work—as well as those who endeavour to live UPEI’s values and support our EDI strategy.
The PEI Pride Festival is an opportunity to celebrate and visibly acknowledge that we continue to move forward together. With the recent release of the Rubin Thomlinson report, there has never been a more important time to unite as a university community, embrace EDI, wear our rainbow colours, and show our Panther Pride than during the 2023 PEI Pride Festival. Happy Pride!
GREG KEEFE, DVM, MSc, MBA (he/him)
President and Vice-Chancellor (Interim)
University of Prince Edward Island