In a bold move set to challenge the status quo, Cameron Cassidy (she/her) takes the helm as Executive Director at Pride PEI, reshaping the narrative and breaking free from conventional norms.
As one of the few year-round, full-time leaders in the Canadian Pride scene, Cassidy's vision extends beyond the ordinary. In her words: "We're creating a space where everyone's story is not just heard but celebrated." In this exclusive interview, we explore the audacious plans, uncharted territories, and unwavering commitment that Cassidy brings to the forefront. She is promising a Pride PEI that defies expectations and stands as a beacon of progress in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
In recent years, Pride organisations nationwide have faced internal challenges, leaving communities underwhelmed and festivals hanging in the balance. Pride PEI itself experienced a tumultuous period less than three years ago, marked by a membership revolt that led to the rejection of slated board members. The community held a Special General Meeting, resulting in the election of new bylaws and candidates, highlighting the need for stability and change within the organisation.
After two successful years of Pride Festivals under the leadership of then Chair, Lucky Fusca, Pride PEI achieved a significant milestone by securing funding for an Executive Director. Stepping into this pivotal role, Cameron Cassidy envisions Pride PEI as a harmonious convergence of diverse identities and inclusive unity. At the core of Cassidy's mission is cultivating positive relationships that transcend city limits and resonate within the fabric of rural communities.
Mrs. Cassidy plans to steer the organisation away from the common pitfalls associated with cyclical organisational implosions: board burnout, frequently associated with the dominance of cis-white gay men in leadership roles.
I can't know everything, and all that I can do is consistently learn and take advice from folks who are BIPOC, who are gender nonconforming, who are disabled and use my privilege to uplift those voices.
In tackling the historical cycles of upheaval, Cassidy emphasises the crucial role of stability and long-term planning. "Now that we have the opportunity, it would be unfair for Pride not to take that chance and run with it," she asserts. The goal is a departure from short-term funding cycles, ensuring sustainability, preventing burnout, allowing the board and staff to effectively nurture the community it serves.
When discussing her approach to addressing potential controversies, Cassidy underscores a commitment to transparency and care. Her strategy involves navigating challenges through measured consultation, aiming to foster unity within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community while upholding Pride PEI's principles. She champions collective decision-making, passionately endorsing the richness of the entire community. In her own words, "I can't know everything, and all that I can do is consistently learn and take advice from folks who are BIPOC, who are gender nonconforming, who are disabled and use my privilege to uplift those voices."
Cassidy aims to anchor Pride PEI firmly in community empowerment: "Success should be a shared journey, shaping Pride PEI collectively."
Intending to reinstate coffee chats, she envisions these gatherings as a means to organically seek community input, fostering pressure-free conversations.
Outside the boundaries of Pride, collaborations with businesses and nonprofits emerge as vital avenues to amplify Pride PEI's presence. Cassidy aspires to collaborative ventures with organisations both within and outside the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Her vision is clear: to showcase that queerness permeates every corner of society, breaking free from confinement to a singular space.
Success should be a shared journey, shaping Pride PEI collectively
As Cameron Cassidy embarks on this transformative journey at Pride PEI, her leadership radiates a deep dedication to community engagement, long-term stability, and inclusivity. Pride PEI, in her capable hands, transcends being merely an organisation; it transforms into a shared narrative, a vibrant celebration of diversity, and a testament to the enduring spirit of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
The PEI Pride Festival is July 12th - 21st; check out their website at pridepei.ca.