St. Denis Catholic School welcomed start of Pride Month with flag raising, dancing

The Pride flag is displayed at St. Denis Catholic School in the Beach during a celebration on May 31. Photo by Donna Braybrook.

The recent Pride celebration at St Denis Catholic School was as colourful, joyful and exciting as one can imagine with a yard full of children waving rainbow flags.

The students, wearing designated colours by class to create a human rainbow, attentively listened to former Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, who opened her speech on May 31 at St. Denis Catholic School with a beautiful analogy about gardens that have multi-coloured flowers in it.

And even if someone were to try to plant just one type of flower in their garden, little dandelions and other flowers would come out. “I think that the way nature creates us is what we should be celebrating,” stated Wynne. “Nature looks for difference, nature looks for all of the beauty that difference brings us,” she added.

The event included speeches by school principal Anthony Pauk, who has been instrumental in making this momentous Pride celebration possible.

Pauk has proven himself to be a true ally working with the parent volunteers who make up the Pride Team, a subcommittee of the school’s Equity Circle.

There were signature elements such as a countdown for a massive Pride flag drop, an ice cream truck, and a vocal performance led by Andrea Henry, who movingly interpreted the song Live Your Story with the help of the students.

New to this year’s ceremony, was the unveiling of a unique art installation, clearly visible from Spruce Hill Road, consisting of an impressive mosaic of the Progress Pride flag made up of hundreds of pieces of Pride-inspired artwork by the St. Denis students.

One of the most relevant moments of the celebration took place when two St. Denis parents shared the following:

“Our names are David and Laurent. He is Daddy, I am Papa and as gay dads, we have been blown away by how welcoming, inclusive and progressive this school community has been to our family. This celebration is particularly important for any student who feels different or feels that they don’t belong…Because actually, not only are you welcome, and belong, but you are loved and valued, no matter who you are.”

A former and much-loved teacher from St. Denis, Wendell Isidor, came back specifically for the celebration.

He led the Show Your Colours Show, which was an opportunity for the students to walk or dance and celebrate who they are in front of their peers. His electrifying energy as an MC got the awaited DJ party started.

Celebrating Pride in 2023 may not seem newsworthy, but unfortunately there is still a lot of work to be done.

As one of the organizers of the event, I am reflecting on how I wasn’t born waving the Pride flag. I wasn’t brought up surrounded by the most progressive mentalities, and yet here I am, passionately searching for ways to ensure the safety and dignity of all people.

At the end of the day, I know I can’t change anyone. The message I would like to send is simply a reminder that each person has the power to stretch themselves, to engage in meaningful and respectful discourse, and to experience the reward of… being inclusive.

— Ofelia Loret de Mola

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