Ottawa’s first Pride Night Market is coming to Parkdale Market on August 20. It’s a 2SLGBTQIA+ celebration where the community can gather and appreciate lovely performers, businesses, and one another.
Josephine Masterson of Little Jo Berry’s called up Venus Envy owner Sam Whittle and Parkdale Market manager Melanie Anderson with their idea for a Pride Market. With lightning speed, the concept moved from one-dimensional to a live event. Whittle thought, “queer dance party!” and brought in Homo Phono to complement the event. Local designer Sage Hartly provided the delightful promotional artwork. And just like that, the countdown to dance, snack and shop from local 2SLGBTQIA+ businesses was on.
What can people expect to find at the Market? “A mix of vendors: artists, makers, self-care businesses, home goods, and of course snacks! We plan to have a few food vendors, so people can get some food and stay all night to enjoy our performers. And all night, we will have music on the main stage in the park, so get ready to dance,” says Masterson.
Masterson saw a critical community need and opportunity to enhance Ottawa by “creating financially accessible events for small business and entrepreneurs during Pride… Our goal is to make this event as successful and safe for the vendors as possible. As a queer and non-binary-owned business myself, I know that opportunities for 2SLGBTQIA+ businesses are rare, and a space fully dedicated to this community is even more uncommon. We also just want to have a little fun, and dance and snack and meet our customers and pals.”
One of the evening’s performers is OK Naledi, who has been performing locally for 10 years and is also a producer and video creator. Naledi will give us a “high-energy performance,” including a DJ and acoustic drummer, Kira Montfort. “We like to have a good time on stage and bring the audience along with us!” she says.
“I love performing—it’s the best part of my job, and as a Queer artist, getting to perform at Queer events like the Pride Night Market just feels like coming home and performing for family. The Queer community in Ottawa is relatively small, and over the pandemic, we lost a lot of spaces and Queer events,” Naledi says. Event creators have given us “a chance to come together and be our open and best Queer selves in a safe and inclusive space.”
Some things Naledi can’t wait for: “The SNACKS! There’s going to be some delicious treats and a post-performance snack is absolutely on my agenda. Also the prospect of having my performance sandwiched (see what I did there) between DJ Celestial and DJ Del Pilar is just icing on the cake (I can’t stop!).”
One of the vendors on-site at the Market will be Indigenous beadwork artist Soft But Sturdy, which has created and woven beaded jewelry, accessories, and wall art since February 2020. Owner/creator Kaytlyn Nadjiwon describes the business as “an extension of myself as an Indigenous artist” and also a “queer Ojibwe/Italian beadwork artist” operating as “a guest on unceded unsurrendered Algonquin Territory with maternal ties to the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation.”
“My heart’s work,” Nadjiwon says, “is to create beautiful beaded pieces for everyone, every gender, settlers and Indigenous folks alike. I believe that my work brings Indigenous knowledge and excellence into so many spaces as wearable, conversation-starting art!” Nadjiwon’s booth will provide hand-woven earrings, brooch pins, bolo ties and fan faves like strawberry earrings and pins, medicine puff hearts, long fringe earrings, and daisy necklaces.
Queer events hosted and organized by other queer folks and organizations are fundamental, Nadjiwon explains, because “they spotlight the talent and skill within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in such a great way to help us show up authentically as ourselves. It means not just adding a rainbow to everything, but participating in something created by and for queer folks to create space for and celebrate ourselves!”
So, save the date for the first Pride Night Market, message your friends, and bring extra cash and lots of snack containers!
The first Ottawa Pride Market takes place at Parkdale Market starting at 5pm on August 20, 2022.