Pride makes WN more welcoming in just over a year

Serge and Lynne Bourgoin of Just Chillin’ ice cream parlour presented $445, raised throughout Pride Month, to Pride committee members Lynne Gervais and Ryan Conway on June 29th.

June, Pride Month in West Nipissing, wrapped up on a satisfying note as the Pride Committee received a donation cheque of $445 and some extra in the tip jar from Just Chillin’ Ice Cream. Michel Gervais, one of the committee members, noted that 2021 saw more community support in this second year of operations. “It’s been great to see even more local businesses and organizations getting together and helping us out. Just Chillin’ did that; Stop’n’Shop, Stitch’n’Love, Sturgeon Falls Printing, they are all doing their part to encourage the committee, selling products, and it’s been great.”

Chair of the WN Pride Committee, Renée-Anne Paquette, summed up the month. “We’re only one year old…  Speaking on behalf of the committee, we got together last week finally face-to-face… We chatted on how we felt everything went, from the drag show to the mural and we’re so please with the support, seeing all those businesses in WN… It really touched all of us. It was double the people as 2020. The message is reaching everyone in WN.”

Serge and Lynne Bourgoin, owners of Just Chillin’, put 50 cents from every sale of ice cream for the month of June into a fund to support Pride. “We were looking at doing something for the community and seeing it was Pride Month and it’s a group that’s trying to get going, we picked them to help out. It’s part of change and we’ve got to get with the times,” stated Serge.

Ryan Conway and Lynne Gervais, accepting on behalf of the Pride Committee, took the time to reflect on how Pride went this year, despite continuing COVID restrictions. Ryan expressed, “As a young queer person you can’t really ask for anything more than community support. To see how West Nipissing has rallied for individuals who live in WN, and the north in general, it’s so moving. I’m touched, and I’m so happy to now be living in WN.” He moved to the area from Mississauga and is pleasantly surprised. “Obviously [Mississauga] is a more liberal city and you have more advocacy happening, especially from corporate. But here it feels more genuine, more grass roots, and not so blasé – ‘It’s Pride let’s all go celebrate!’ It’s really lovely to see a small community come together with true support, through allyship. I’m blown away. …I’m happy I get to discover WN in this light… to have such welcoming energy from everybody.”

Gervais is thrilled as a mother and an advocate. “As a parent I’m happy to have my kid and my son-in-law here. I never thought this would happen, and especially with COVID! I’m so happy you guys are here. We’re hearing comments from people our age and who had moved away and they are seeing everything that’s going on in WN. We even had somebody in their 70s recently came out after 40 years and bought a Love is Love t-shirt!”

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