Demanding Gays: The Village to unveil “We Demand” mural during Capital Pride
Mural commemorating the first LGBT civil rights demo in Canada to be unveiled Fri Aug 26 during Capital Pride by Ottawa non-profit organizers The Village
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On Aug 28, 1971, the first civil rights demonstration by queers in Canada was held in Ottawa with a simultaneous demonstration in Vancouver, presenting to the government a Toronto Gay Action brief entitled “We Demand”. The brief laid out ten demands to end discrimination against homosexuals ranging from criminal code changes to human rights protection. The manifesto called for an end to the ban on homosexuals coming into the country and a demand to know if the government was investigating gays working in the public sector. The ten demands that they put before Parliament that day set the agenda for lesbian and gay rights for the next thirty years. “We Demand” is considered to be the first public LGBT political demonstration in Canada.
40 years later and much has changed, but the GLBT community continues to face oppression in schools, from many religious institutions, and sometimes even from family, friends and in the workplace. The Village, Ottawa’s non-profit community initiative “to nurture, grow and maintain a gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-friendly Village in Ottawa’s downtown core,” is creating and funding its first public art mural to commemorate this landmark demonstration. In doing so, they hope to beautify the Village area, to celebrate and honour our past heroes and proud history, and, writes director Glenn Crawford, “to inspire the community to work for a better future.”
Among the spokespersons at the 1971 demonstration was Charlie Hill, then a member of the Homophile Association at the University of Toronto and later, Gays of Ottawa. Hill will be a key note speaker at the press conference and unveiling of the mural, which will be held on Friday, August 26th at 5pm, at the mural location on the corner of Bank and Gilmour Streets.
For more information about the mural and the unveiling and press conference, check out