Nova Scotia’s lawyers are set to march in the Halifax Pride Parade as a profession for the first time this Saturday.
Lawyers have marched in the annual celebration before — individually or as part of other organizations — but this year will mark the first time they will participate collectively as lawyers.
The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society is teaming up with the Canadian Bar Association Nova Scotia Branch to organize the effort, called Legally Proud, which will see lawyers wearing rainbow-coloured tabs as they walk in the parade.
“This is a way for the profession to get out into the broader community and experience Pride but still be connected as part of our professional group,” says Amy Sakalauskas, the president of CBA-NS.
Roughly 70 lawyers are expected to march with family and friends as part of the initiative. The lawyers got permission in advance from the judiciary to wear the rainbow tabs.
Sakalauskas says the Nova Scotia lawyers drew inspiration from their CBA counterparts in British Columbia, who have marched in the Vancouver Pride Parade with their own float over the last five years.
This year’s theme at the Halifax Pride Parade is “This is why,” which seeks to highlight the reasons the event is so important. These reasons include the advances in LGBTQ rights that have happened over the decades, Nova Scotia lawyers say.
Sakalauskas says the lawyers’ presence in Pride is important, as the legal community has been a big part of advancing those rights.
“By showing that as a profession we’re open to being part of these discussions and the broader discussions outside of the courtroom, I’d like to think that it makes the justice system at least appear and hopefully be more accessible to people,” she says.
Marching in the parade will also help people realize how welcoming the legal profession is, Sakalauskas says.
“There’s a real perception of a very conservative profession that people might not realize is as welcoming as it is,” Sakalauskas says.
“It puts a public face to the profession that shows — whether inside the courtroom or outside the courtroom or the office — that we’re celebrating diversity and coming together with the broader community to do that.”
Sakalauskas says McInnes Cooper LLP walked as a firm in the parade last year and several firms have served as sponsors to the event in the past, but it was time the profession marched together.
“It was just the next step in it all,” she says.
The barristers’ society and the Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity section of CBA-NS held its 14th annual Pride reception Thursday night to show support for the LGBTQ community in the lead-up to the parade.
“It really just gives us another opportunity to celebrate,” Sakalauskas says.
“I always think of Pride, as much as it’s about advocacy and routed in protest, it’s a real celebration, for us to celebrate the triumphs along the way. A parade is a really good atmosphere to do that and to include our kids and our significant others.”