KAMLOOPS — Hundreds of students and members of the public turned up on the Thompson Rivers University campus for the school's fifth annual Pride Parade on Wednesday.
This year's event, hosted by the TRUSU Equity Committee, seeks to set out the TRU campus as a safe space for those of any sexual orientation or gender identity.
WATCH: Full story by Chad Klassen
It's an opportunity TRU students in the LGBTQ community don't get often enough — a venue to come together and express who they truly are.
"It's huge," says the LGBTQ representative with the TRU Student Union, Caitlin Orteza. "The LGBTQ population is one that isn't very visible as a minority. You can't pick them out in a crowd, so to have this space and to have this event, where people can come togheter and be visible, and claim TRU as a safe space for the LGBTQ community is a really big deal."
About 250 people came out to take part in the parade, including university delegates coming out to show their support for diversity on campus.
"We include, and we include them every way we can," says TRU President Alan Shaver. "We also have these kinds of parades, and I attend and speak at it, and I reinforce the freedom that we have and the respect that we have for people, no matter what their orientation is."
Groups like the Kamloops United Church also attended today's festivities, the group's second year being part of it.
"I appreciated being supportive," says Rev. Bruce Comrie. "At the Kamloops United Church, we've been trying to be part of the affirming congregations for the last 20 years. It's a matter of offering support and respect and mutual care for one another."
While there is support for the LGBTQ community at TRU and through most of Kamloops, many feel there is more progress that needs to happen.
"I think campus is, at large, a pretty safe space," says President of the TRUSU Pride Club Paolino Caputo. "In some ways, it's a bit of a safe haven. Even walking downtown with my boyfriend holding hands, we get called out every once in a while. Campus, for a lot of people, is a much more accepting, much more open."
According to studies, 1 in 5 LGBTQ students report physical harrassment.
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