The flag raising at City Hall kickstarted the second annual Elk Valley Pride Festival. Photo courtesy of City of Fernie

Elk Valley shows it’s got Pride

Second annual Elk Valley Pride Festival a huge success

Elk Valley Pride festival-goers could learn how to bust a move like Misty Meadows and her entourage at future events.

Fernie Pride Society President Sara Funk has hinted a drag queen dance lesson could feature as part of next year’s program.

“Every year throws us a few learning curves, so of course there are things that we would do differently next year,” said Funk.

“However, we’re very proud to have hosted the Elk Valley Pride Festival again this year and we wouldn’t change a thing.

“I will say this year drag goddess Desi Rekrut suggested a drag queen dance lesson next year and we’re definitely interested.”

The second annual Elk Valley Pride Festival was held from October 9-14 and featured a wide range of events, from drag queen bingo and film screenings to a self-defense clinic and hike to Fairy Creek Falls.

Funk was pleased with the turnout.

“We were happy to see so many people out this year for Pride,” she said.

“Some events were quiet, smaller, and more intimate. Some events, like the drag queen story time got over 100 participants. It was amazing.”

The Dragilicious Dance Party at Fernie Golf Club on Saturday was a sellout for the second year running.

It raised more than $8000 for Fernie Pride, which will go towards education and empowerment programming in the Elk Valley.

For Funk, the highlight of Pride was the community’s participation and outpouring of love.

“From raising the flags at City Hall to organizations like the library hosting events, all of our sponsors and donors, volunteers, businesses who decorated their windows to spread the love, and all the people that attended; I could probably post a different thank you on social media for the next 365 days and it still wouldn’t be enough,” she said.

Sparwood karate school gives back during Pride

Local youth have been armed with the skills to defend themselves as part of Pride celebrations in Fernie.

This year’s Elk Valley Pride Festival featured a free six-hour self-defense clinic hosted by the Sparwood Shotokan Karate School at the Max Turyk Community Centre on Saturday.

Head instructor Bob Gardiner said teaching self-defense is part of students’ training requirements but they also wanted to give back to the community.

“We’re not a commercial operation at all, we don’t charge fees and, in fact, the price of admission for this course was participants to make a donation to the food bank,” he said.

“It’s part of our intention to remind everyone that we’re all part of the bigger community here.”

There was strong sign up interest, however, only five children completed the program.

They received one-on-one instruction from senior members of the school, who have black belts or higher, and were taught the “three Ts of self defense”: targets, tools and techniques.

“As we tell students, you’re not expected to win a fight, all you’re expected to do is make it really difficult for the predator to push it through,” said Gardiner.

“You simply need to fight your way to freedom, so everything we’re doing here is not about winning a fight, it’s about escaping.”

The students were taught firstly to make noise and call for help then to “soften” an opponent up before executing a technique that would allow them to get away.

Asked why the school offered the program during Pride, Gardiner said every community or segment of society is entitled to know how to defend themselves.

“If you are susceptible and you have the right to be able to discourage predation,” he said.

“We just don’t like predators being able to find easy targets, so the more we can harden targets and make them expensive prey, the more we’ve done our job.”

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Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano with Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski. Photo courtesy of City of Fernie

Bob Gardiner from Sparwood Shotokan Karate School demonstrates self defense skills during a free clinic on Saturday. Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press

Bob Gardiner from Sparwood Shotokan Karate School demonstrates self defense skills during a free clinic on Saturday. Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press

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