Justin Trudeau is marching in a pride parade. Yeah, it's a big deal.

If you're a fan of human rights, you probably like Justin Trudeau.

This week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an unprecedented move when it comes to LGBT rights and visibility.

If you're someone who's paid close attention to his record on LGBT issues, the news likely isn't all that surprising. It might not seem like it's that big of a deal, but it's still historic.


Photo by Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images.

Trudeau will be Canada's first prime minister to march in Toronto's Pride Parade.

The popular PM plans to participate in the event this coming July alongside the country's first openly gay premier, Ontario's Kathleen Wynne, BBC News reported.

Trudeau — who's in favor of expanding protections for transgender Canadians and is seeking to end the outdated, homophobic barriers that prevent gay men from donating blood — is "very much look[ing] forward to being there again, this time as PM," he tweeted on Feb. 22, 2016.

“[It’s] big news in Canada, but big news around the world,” Mathieu Chantelois, Pride Toronto’s executive director, told BuzzFeed Canada.

If you're a big fan of social progress, you're probably a fan of Trudeau.

Of course, he hasn't been without his fair share of criticism throughout the years — like when he got called out for flip-flopping on gun laws or, more recently, caught flak from some political opponents for using taxpayer funds to pay family nannies (a move he defended).

By and large, however, Trudeau has been heralded as a leader moving Canada forward on human rights and equality.

Like when he appointed women to half his cabinet because, well, "it's 2015," as he put it.

Or when he called on more men to embrace the term "feminist."

GIF via the World Economic Forum.

And remember that time he welcomed Syrian refugees to Canada with open arms?


GIF via BBC News/YouTube.

Yeah, that was great too.

He's also been an advocate for mending Canada's divisive relationship with its indigenous peoples and he made sure that his gender-equal cabinet was ethnically diverse as well.

Trudeau's decision to march may not seem like a very big deal in a country often seen as America's more liberal friend to the north.

But it is — even for Canada. Because pride parades aren't just about rainbow flags and colorful floats. They're symbolic of a community embracing its queer brothers and sisters as one. To have a world leader fully embracing that idea is history worth remembering.

Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.

More

Comedy legend Carol Burnett once said, "Giving birth is like taking your lower lip and forcing it over your head." She wasn't joking.

Going through childbirth is widely acknowledged as one of the most grueling things a human can endure. Having birthed three babies myself, I can attest that Burnett's description is fairly accurate—if that seemingly impossible lip-stretching feat lasted for hours and involved a much more sensitive part of your body.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via SNL / YouTube

Christopher Walken is one of the greatest actors of his generation. He's been nominated for an Academy Award twice for best supporting actor, winning once for 1978's "The Deer Hunter" and receiving a nomination for 2002's "Catch Me if You Can."

He's played memorable roles in "Annie Hall," "Pulp Fiction," "Wedding Crashers," "Batman Returns," and countless other films. He's also starred in Shakespeare on the stage and began his career as a dancer.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

popular

Gerrymandering is a funny word, isn't it? Did you know that it's actually a mashup of the name "Gerry" and the word "salamander"? Apparently, in 1812, Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry had a new voting district drawn that seemed to favor his party. On a map, the district looked like a salamander, and a Boston paper published it with the title The GerryMander.

That tidbit of absurdity seems rather tame compared to an entire alphabet made from redrawn voting districts a century later, and yet here we are. God bless America.

Keep Reading Show less
popular