Initiatives at MRU
photo courtesy of Adrian Shellard
Calgary Pride Parade
The primary motivation for MRU's 6th year of participation in the Calgary Pride Parade is to promote inclusion and a sense of community on our campus. Faculty, staff, students, administrators, family and friends of multiple and intersecting identities walk together in solidarity. We began entering the parade as part of our campus's Positive Space Initiative, a grassroots awareness and advocacy campus movement that has grown and evolved over the last 15 years to provide more formalized advocacy, awareness and education to the MRU campus community. It is also important to us to signal the broader Calgary community, particularly incoming students, young people (potential future students) and potential future colleagues, that a welcoming and inclusive learning and working community exists and awaits them.
In 2018, over 200 people from the university community joined in the parade that drew over 80,000 spectators (broke the record in attendance) into the downtown area to celebrate Calgary Pride. MRU is a proud sponsor of Calgary Pride, a not for profit organization that exists to promote equality and celebrate Calgary's diversity.
Our city, free from discrimination against gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation
A project from the MRU Pride Planning Committee in celebration of pride was to paint a pride crosswalk on campus to show its commitment to diversity and inclusion. The pride flag is a powerful symbol that shows support for a historically marginalized community. We want all students, staff, faculty, and community members to know that everyone is welcome at MRU and everyone belongs here.
Students who show leadership in support of LGBTQ communities are being recognized through a first-of-its-kind scholarship in southern Alberta. The Pride Scholarship (search for “Pride” on the page) awards $500 to two Mount Royal University students who are creating more inclusive spaces for people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.
Dave Beninger started the scholarship, along with two fellow graduates of the University of Calgary. “This is a way of showing that universities - especially Mount Royal University - are really accepting and tolerant places,” said Beninger. As someone who identifies with LGBTQ communities, Beninger understands the importance of studying in a safe place. He sees the scholarship as a means of addressing the social and economic inequality experienced by marginalized sexual communities - in educational circles, as well as in broader society.
“We wanted to step up to fill the gap,” Beninger said. Joe Dutton, a senior development officer at Mount Royal, credited Beninger as the driving force behind the award, while also acknowledging the University’s leadership team for steering the scholarship through the approval process. “In terms of inclusivity, it sends a strong message to the community,” said Dutton, adding he was tremendously proud to work on the student award.
In the past, members of LGBTQ communities noted there are few awards specifically for those who identify as sexual minorities. The University of Alberta selects two students for the Michael Phair Leadership Award. The Students’ Association of Mount Royal University offers a Gender and Sexual Diversity Award.
- create inclusive community across the gender and sexuality spectrum
- find support for themselves and support their gender and sexually diverse peers
- enhance everyone’s learning about gender and sexual diversity
The Pride Centre’s programs and services include:
- Gender and sexuality resource library
- Free safer sex and pregnancy prevention supplies including latex-free, internal condoms, and dental dams
- Free educational information for gender and sexual diversity, sexual and reproductive health, and healthy relationships for people of all genders and sexualities
- Referral services and peer support
- Queer-positive events and workshops
Today, we are are celebrating a joyful, momentous and colourful day for Mount Royal University. It’s a great time to be at Mount Royal. I am very pleased to share with you that today marks the first time, ever, that the University will fly the Pride flag in the month of June, which we recognize as Pride Month. We always celebrate Calgary Pride Week at the end of summer, but today we will fly the flag for the very first time during Pride Month.
So, why do we celebrate Pride Month in June?
It goes back all the way to the ’60s, from the Stonewall Riots in New York City in June of 1969. It was a turning point for the gay rights movement.
And why do we fly the rainbow flag when we celebrate Pride Month?
The original rainbow flag was designed by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker and social activist Harvey Milk in June of 1978. It was a symbol of hope for the gay community to be flown at the Freedom Day Parade
Today, the flag continues to represent pride. It also represents some big words: Bravery. Courage. And the strength that it takes to come out — whoever you are, and whatever “coming out” means to you. It’s not easy. But the flag represents that we should all be proud of our courage.
Here at Mount Royal, we’re grateful for days like this.
Today, we harness the power of happiness, of inclusivity, and of equality. The past showed us the pathway forward. At MRU, we continue to walk that path, knowing there’s always more that can be done to promote human rights. This flag symbolizes acceptance. Not just acceptance of LGBTQ2+ communities, but also acceptance of everything that makes us who we are.
This is our flag - for everyone. At Mount Royal, we support and celebrate you for who you are, and that’s what this flag represents. Whoever you are, you belong here. This flag is for you, and for all of us.
Provost & Vice President, Academic