There were a few firsts at Vancouver’s Pride Parade on Sunday.
It had Canada’s first sitting prime minister in attendance. It also had Canada’s first defence minister taking part.
And Surrey’s Alex Sangha, the parade’s first Sikh grand marshal, also had a first.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been in a BMW before,” he told The Leader.
Leading the LGBTQ floats through Vancouver’s West End in a convertible with friends, Sangha said people he hadn’t seen for years came up to shake his hand and show their support.
Hundreds of thousands of spectators attended the annual event.
One 19-year-old man in the BMW told Sangha: “I can’t believe there are so many gay people.”
Sangha is the founder of an LGBTQ support group for South Asians called Sher Vancouver.
He wore traditional Indian attire, a red tunic and a multi-coloured scarf, representing a group that has not been traditionally friendly to the LGBTQ community.
Sangha said the participation of Canada’s Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan sent an important message.
“It shows the (South Asian) community has come a long way.”
The parade’s highlight was the participation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who walked through the crowd with his wife and three kids, as well as several Liberal MPs.
Sangha was only disappointed that a few groups – notably Black Lives Matter (BLM) – boycotted the parade, citing the participation of the Vancouver Police Department.
He said all groups who campaign for minorities need to know who their allies are.
“The battle is not with us. We’re allies, we’re their supporters.”
But overall, the event was fabulous, Sangha said, saying the pride movement showed strength in numbers.
“You can give people rights and the world doesn’t fall apart.”