Jasper the Bear joins skiers as they head down to lower mountain with Pride flags during Marmot Basin’s Ski Parade on April 9, 2022. This was part of the Jasper Pride & Ski Festival, the only gay ski week in the Canadian Rockies. | B.Payette / Marmot Basin photo Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

If last year’s Jasper Pride and Ski Festival is any indication, then this year’s edition should be a real extravaganza.

In 2022, organizers had only a few months to plan for the newly-expanded 10-day schedule of events and fun. As such, they considered that most attendees probably decided to come at the last-minute.

Still, it was a great success and now the planning team is looking to expand on its events for the 14th annual festival.

“I’m super excited that we are heading into Jasper Pride 2023 this year without any restrictions that we can welcome everybody, and that everybody is welcome to visit all the events that are there,” said Pride board member Joost Tijssen.

This year’s Jasper Pride and Ski Festival is set to run from April 14 to 23, and it looks to be its biggest celebration ever. It’s already the third largest Pride in the province and only gay ski week in the Rockies.  

It’s also the only one to come so early in the year, taking advantage of the shoulder season to give skiers even more reasons to make the trip.

“That is just, I think, a very unique way to celebrate Pride because it’s the only pride ski week in the Rocky Mountains. What makes Jasper Pride really unique is that we celebrate it in April, where we still have a beautiful ski hill, of course – Marmot Basin – ready for us.”

There are more than 35 events lined up for this year’s 10-day festival and Tijssen confirmed that it will be more inclusive than ever, meaning there’s something for everybody.

It all starts with the flag-raising at the Jasper Emergency Services Building starting at 12:15 p.m. on Friday, April 14. Everybody is invited to join together for the proud moment.

Once done, Jasper Pride will be off and running with five more events and parties on kickoff day alone, including a party just for teens.

“We have meaningful events and events where everybody can feel safe and be welcomed,” Tijssen said.

That includes Pride Storytime at the Jasper Municipal Library, Seniors Drag Bingo, the Tuesday Tween Takeover, and Sâkihitowin, a drag event to celebrate the Indigenous two-spirit community. Sâkihitowin is a Cree word that loosely translates to “love one another.”  

Don’t forget the Pride Burlesque event and Dungeons and Drag Pride Party that should be some of the big highlights of the week.  

People can see what each event is about and sign up for them by visiting www.jasperpride.ca

You can also sign up for your free spots at some events or buy tickets for others on the website as well. Signing up for a free Pride Pass helps you to take in more of the festival with special deals and discounts around town.

There’s also an online auction for all to check out. It starts taking bids on April 1.

The fest wraps up on Sunday, April 23 with the Jasper Pride Awards Brunch featuring keynote speaker, Aynsley Graham. The deadline to receive nominations in all categories (person, youth, proud business, and LGBTQ+ community organization) is at noon on Friday, April 7.

All of this speaks to not only the success and acceptance of the Pride movement locally, but it also speaks to bigger and better things to come for the future of the Jasper Pride and Ski Week.

“The growth is just huge, and it also shows that the community is very supportive of Pride and happy to have Pride here. Without the community in Jasper, honestly, basically, you can do nothing,” Tijssen said.

“Pride would definitely not be as big as if we wouldn’t have the support of the community behind us.”

By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 28, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from    The Fitzhugh    Jasper, Alberta
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