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Calgary Stampede barred from participating in Pride parade due to abuse by former staffer

The Calgary Stampede will not be allowed to participate in the city’s annual Pride parade for the “foreseeable future,” due to the sexual abuse of members of the Young Canadians by a former staffer.

Calgary Pride organizers said individuals in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community who were abused by former Young Canadians staffer Phillip Heerema expressed that the Stampede’s participation in the 2023 parade negatively impacted them, in an emailed statement Wednesday.

“After several months of investigations, we provided ample notice to Calgary Stampede declining their involvement in our parade for the foreseeable future, with accompanying suggestions for change and repair to improve their standing with us and the 2SLGBTQIA+ Community,” Anna Kinderwater, the manager of communications for Calgary Pride, said in the statement.

Kinderwater said the Stampede did not respond to their notice.

“We recognize these situations are complex, but accountability for our community is important to us, and we hope they’ll return to discuss repair on a community level in the future,” Kinderwater said.

CTV News has reached out to the Calgary Stampede for comment.

The Calgary Stampede recently agreed to a $9.5 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit that alleged the organization allowed Heerema to sexually abuse young boys for decades.

Heerema is serving a 10-year sentence after pleading guilty to charges including sexual assault, sexual exploitation, making child pornography and luring in 2018.

He admitted to using his position with the Young Canadians School of Performing Arts to lure six boys into sexual relationships between 1992 and 2014.

The Young Canadians is a performing arts group that performs nightly at the Calgary Stampede Grandstand Show. The school is operated by the Calgary Stampede Foundation.

The Stampede agreed to an admission of negligence and breach of duty, in addition to paying 100 per cent of the damages for the actions of Heerema.

Calgary Pride also just announced political parties will not be allowed to participate in this year’s parade.

Organizers said no other organizations are limited from participating in the parade and festival, and they welcome all to apply.

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