On August 9th, I had the unique opportunity to participate in a procession down University Avenue. There were 300 participants of different abilities. It started at Queen’s Park and ended at Nathan Phillips Square. The timing of the parade was carefully planned to coincide with the Para Pan Am Games.
All the participants were broken into different groups. Each group represented one of the 7 Grandfather Teachings: Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility and Truth. Each group wore different colours depicting each moment of the day, ranging from sunrise to sunset.
All of the participants wore stunning masks and some had wings as well. All of the costumes were designed by Trinidadian artist Marlon Griffith. He had taken up residence at the Art Gallery of York University.
As we went down University Avenue, hundreds of people lined the streets. Everyone was taking pictures of us and some even applauded as we went down the street. Along the route, there were spoken word poets and Native drumming. When we got to Nathan Phillips Square, we all ushered into the Square and there was a circle dance as well.
I cannot tell you how utterly amazing that experience was. I have always been proud of who I am but when I saw the support people showed us, it gave me a stronger sense of pride and stronger sense of self.
I would do it again in a heartbeat