For the first time ever in SAIT history, SAITSA hosted Pride Day Feb. 12, and the event was such a success it may be held again next year.
According to Amanda Hanna, SAITSA VP of Student Life, the event was more than she ever could have asked for.
“It was amazing, the turnout was great, and the response was great,” Hanna said.
As a result, Hanna said she would pass on information on how the event was organized to her successor on SAITSA council next year, in hopes it will be repeated.
SAIT students gathered by the hundreds to take in pride day, grab a rainbow pin to show their support, and to drink all of the rainbow hot chocolate SAITSA provided.
“I definitely think it was beneficial. It’s a day to educate people, and for some people to be proud of whom they are,” said Dez Ahlstrom, who is an Environmental Technology student at SAIT, and is also part of the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender (LGBT) community.
“It’s easier when you’re older. The pressure on LGBT teens can be overwhelming.”
“It’s upsetting that they feel as though they have to keep secrets, tell lies, basically deny who they are, because their peers dictate that it’s wrong, ”she continued.
SAITSA was excited and ready to help everyone feel welcome and included at SAIT, no matter what their sexual orientation is.
SAITSA also flew the pride flag for the first time ever, and it seemed as though the campus enjoyed the colors in the sky.
“I didn’t even have words. It was amazing. It was so perfect to see everyone there,” Hanna said about the flag rising.
“Just seeing everyone posting pictures and stuff of it, after, who weren’t even at it, it just shows that we’re taking the right steps.”
Hanna said that the most rewarding part for her during the day was seeing how happy everyone was.
“Seeing people of every race, religious background and culture, come together and just not even think twice about it, and just enjoy it, smile and be prideful,” Hanna said.
Throughout the day, the whole campus was very acceptable and respectful toward the event and the LGBT community.
“I think that we helped the people that aren’t necessarily a part of that community at least respect what those individuals feel and what they go through, and who they are as a human being,” Hanna said.
I think we at least opened some minds. – Amanda Hanna
SAITSA tables were set up in five different buildings on campus, where they handed out the pins and hot chocolate, but were also there to answer questions and be a support system.
“It was incredible to see people from the LGBT community speak up about what they’re struggling with on our campus,” said Tegan Cochrane, SAITSA president.
“There was this one moment when three trades guys came up to the booth, and they all asked for a pin,” Cochrane said.
“That was, for me, incredible, because that is one of the biggest things we struggle with – people saying we’re not a pride-friendly campus, because we’re trades heavy,” she continued.
In addition to the events during the day, SAITSA held a showing of the CBC documentary, “How We Got Gay,” in the student support centre.
“We had 40 plus people come out (to the movie). The conversation was amazing, it was very respectful and enlightening, and it was just so wonderful,” Hanna said.
There was a panel discussion afterward, which Hanna described as “phenomenal,” with members of the SAIT community and members of the LGBT community.