Our History – together forever and the journey continues.
The catalyst for the first gay dance in Surrey was to raise monies to fight the SD36 (Surrey School District) book ban – see Chamberlain v SD36 i It was organized by Martin Rooney, Rob, Linda and Dar. It was held at Greek Hall on 160th & 82nd, Feb 14th 1998 followed by the FIRST Surrey Pride BBQ, Festival and Dance held at Sullivan Hall in June of 1999. Then as more dances were held, more people became involved, this first dance would ultimately see Surrey gain a Gay non-profit society known as Out in Surrey Rainbow Cultural Society (OISRCS). OISRCS went on to host the first ever Gay Surrey Pride Day/Weekend proclaimed by Surrey City Hall.
In January 2001 OISRCS was registered in Victoria as a Non Profit Society #S-41946. In 2008 OISRCS diversified with the creation of EPAMA (Empire of the Peace Arch Monarchist Association – see this exhibit) and the Surrey Youth Alliance. OISRCS retained the responsibility for hosting the annual Pride festival.
In 2012 OISRCS voted to change the name to Surrey Pride Society and this new society was registered in Victoria as Non Profit Society #S-41946 in 2013 under the Presidency of Jen Marchbank.
In 2010 the festival took up residence in Holland Park hosting several wonderful celebrations led by Presidents Larry Szunyik, Cory Cassell, Jen Marchbank and Shawn Ewing.
2019 then President and Board brought our 20th anniversary alongside Canada’s 50th anniversary of the beginnings of decriminalization of certain sex acts in private via Pierre Trudeau’s Omnibus Bill C150 in 1969. Surrey Pride celebrated at Central City Plaza. It was one of the most successful Prides. The attendance was in excess of 3000 with 86 vendor booths. The vendor site was located on 102 Ave directly in front of the Plaza.
Then COVID hit in 2020 and Surrey Pride, led by President Martin Rooney, pivoted to organizing a virtual celebration – which you can watch on the screen at this exhibit. As challenging as that was it was a huge success, professionally produced and watched by in excess of 4000 people.
2021 as Covid was still prevalent it was decided that an in person pride was not going to happen, there was no funding available and Pride was not officially celebrated by the SPS. It was however celebrated by Central City Taphouse in an unofficial capacity, and a party occurred including a drag show on the last Saturday of June as we were in and out of covid protocols.
In 2021 plans began to provide a Pride Month of events and Surrey Pride has co-ordinated with other organizations hosting June events to create a full calendar of virtual and in person events (those organizations are listed below).
For our 23rd anniversary Pride festival we are once more back in Central City Plaza – come and join us 4-9pm, June 25th for lots of fun and entertainment in our most accessible and inclusive festival to date.
[Organizations hosting June Pride events include: Sher Vancouver; EPAMA; Uniti; QUIRKes; Youth 4 A Change, sd36, Parks, Recreation & Culture; Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies, SFU; Fraser Valley Bandits; Aequitas Singers; City of Surrey Archives; and Museum of Surrey.]
During 2023 we updated our mandate(constitution) and by laws so we could working on expanding to be more representative of the Rainbow Community. We engaged in discussions about what the future of Surrey might look like through the rainbow lens. We became a pillar within the coalition of like minded social justice, affordability and equity WE BELONG. We had also been nominated for the SBOT excellence award in the not for profit category. As of writing this update, we had made the final 3. So we are making progress internally and externally and we look forward to continuing the goal of equality of ALL our beautiful rainbow community, especially those who reside in Surrey.
The 24th Anniversary Pride month saw the Pride Flag raised for the first time, in celebration of and acknowledgement of the progress made towards equality in our city. We also hosted the well attended Pride Festival on civic plaza in front of ity hall. We had the Civic Hotel, the Dominion Kitchen and Bar and the Royal Oak Restaurant as food and beverage partners. With over 40 vendor booths and the most diverse entertainment it was a huge success. We partnered with Vancouver Whitecaps for their Pride day. In July Canada Cup – The International women’s softball tournament held it’s first Pride Day in its 30 year history. Surrey Pride was proud to be the partner in delivering that day to success. As we head towards our 25th Anniversary Pride year, we are working with many local businesses and organizations to create a more robust business and socioeconomic community that works for all.