This year’s Pride parade was a family affair for Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders and many other Service members.
With his wife, Stacey, and 11-year-old son, Graham, he marched in the annual event on July 3 in downtown Toronto.
This was the second time that Saunders took part in the parade.
“The reason I brought my family is because I believe the more exposure I can give the next generation of what this is all about, I feel the world will be a better place,” he said. “It’s a safe and fun parade and also a learning experience for my son to understand that it doesn’t matter who you love as long as you love somebody.”
Court Services Manager Susan Walker-Knapper, her husband Staff Sergeant Robb Knapper of Traffic Services and their two children, along with their son’s fiancée, also participated in this year’s parade, dedicated to the 49 victims gunned down last month at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
“Robb and I did it two years ago and we had a great time,” said Walker-Knapper. “Our son (Liam) is home from the United Kingdom and, when I asked him and his sister if they would like to join us, they didn’t hesitate. It’s a great family event and it’s good to support friends and co-workers. We all have friends who are different and it’s great to recognize those differences.”
Liam Knapper, who spent three years with Toronto Police Lifeguard Services, was excited to be part of the parade.
“It’s a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon with your family,” said Knapper, a climbing wall supervisor at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Massive crowds lined the streets to watch revellers from the LGBT community celebrate their uniqueness.
“I have been in the parade for 10 years and I have enjoyed every moment,” said Paul Innocente, joined by his husband, Kevin Rosin.
Constable Danielle Bottineau and her partner, Karin DaFonte, have been parade participants for the past six years.
“This is such an important day because we have the opportunity to celebrate who we are, regardless of how that looks and regardless of our gender identity or who we love,” said Bottineau who, as the Service’s LGBTQ liaison officer, is responsible for providing community policing support to Toronto Police Service LGBTQ members as well as other stakeholders in the LGBTQ Community. “It is also vital for us to be out there representing our Service and the community at large.”