(Winnipeg, MB; May 26, 2017) – Over the past 10 months, Pride Winnipeg has consulted with individuals and stakeholder groups on a broad range of issues of interest to the local lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified, two-spirit and queer (LGBTTQ*) community. Through these consultations, the specific issue of the relationship between the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) and the LGBTTQ* community was brought forward, especially as it relates to participation in the annual Pride Winnipeg Parade.
Today, we are announcing a joint advocacy effort by Pride Winnipeg, Queer People of Colour (QPOC) Winnipeg, Two-Spirited People of Manitoba, Like That @ Sunshine House and QueerView Winnipeg to bring positive change to the police relationship with the community.
Through our review of feedback from community consultations and an online survey we agree that there is a clear desire to improve the relationship between the LGBTTQ* community and the WPS. A number of LGBTTQ* individuals in Winnipeg have reported that they have been subject to negative lived experiences with the local police and that this is a serious issue that must be addressed.
The online survey received over 600 responses which uncovered that nearly one third of respondents either wanted no police involvement in the Pride Winnipeg Parade or requested that police do not participate in uniform. Of these respondents, 45% provided concrete suggestions for positive change. An additional one third of respondents were comfortable with uniformed police officers but wanted firm commitments from the WPS to improve their relationship with the LGBTTQ* community. The last third of the community either had no strong views on the issue or were comfortable with the current state of the police relationship.
Respondents to the online survey also suggested concrete actions that the WPS could take to improve relations with the LGBTTQ* community. These actions include:
- Increasing awareness and training amongst WPS officers relating to LGBTTQ* and intersectionality with other oppressed groups.
- Objective: meaningful action to improve the culture within the WPS leading to more consistent positive officer relations with LGBTTQ* individuals.
- Greater, year-round engagement between the WPS and the LGBTTQ* community, especially with groups that are traditionally socially excluded. This includes engaging leaders and groups within the Queer and Trans People of Colour, Indigenous and Two-Sprit, Transgender, Non-Binary, and Queer Youth populations to work toward relationship building so that community members can connect directly where possible with WPS.
- Objective: building positive, long-term relationships with groups that have indicated having the highest rates of negative lived experience with the WPS.
- Taking a more active role in consulting and listening to the views, concerns and suggestions of the LGBTTQ* community on an ongoing basis and taking appropriate action in response.
- Objective: ongoing, year-round dialogue between the LGBTTQ* community and the WPS in order to uncover further issues, identify concrete actions to address them and update on progress in improving the relationship.
Pride Winnipeg, QPOC Winnipeg, Two-Spirited People of Manitoba, Like That @ Sunshine House and QueerView Winnipeg are united in our goal in advocating for the WPS to hold meaningful consultations with the LGBTTQ* community and take steps to operationalize the three aforementioned concrete actions identified by the community over the next year. We will be meeting with the WPS within 60 days of the Pride Winnipeg Parade to discuss immediate next steps.
In the spirit of cooperation and inclusion, WPS officers will be invited to march in the annual Pride Winnipeg Parade, but will not be in uniform. The officers will be free to represent the WPS as an institution through other means such as by wearing WPS branded clothing and/or carrying a banner. Police cruisers will not take part in the parade. It is important to note that this is distinct from the officers who will be on duty providing traffic control and security along the perimeter of the parade. This is a mandatory requirement for all parades utilizing city streets and these officers on duty must be in uniform.
The relationship between the LGBTTQ* community and the WPS will be evaluated on an ongoing basis based on the objectives set in this statement and any additional priorities that emerge through community consultations. A re-assessment of the relationship will take place next year before the annual Pride Parade to determine whether there should be any adjustments to police participation and the ongoing engagement with the community.
We stand together united in our pursuit of positive change and are committed to continuing an open and honest dialogue with the community on this issue.
Two-Spirited People of Manitoba
Like That @ Sunshine House
Queer People of Colour Winnipeg