Steinbach Pride is an annual pride march and rally in Steinbach, Manitoba. The first one was held on July 9, 2016. It garnered national attention in Canada when no elected officials representing the area chose to attend. The organizers expected 200 people, but 3,000 people attended. Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent greetings.
In spring 2013, the NDP provincial government tabled Bill 18. Known as the Anti-bullying bill, it required all publicly funded schools to support anti-bullying student groups, notably ones supporting students of "all sexual orientations and gender identities." Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) were the most prominent example in the media.
Many religious groups and schools in the province opposed the bill on the grounds that it violated religious freedom. Steinbach became the focal point of the controversy, with Southland Community Church and Steinbach Christian High School opposing the bill, a pizzeria putting up a sign saying "We don't accept $18 bills," and the Steinbach City Council passing a resolution asking the government to review the issue. A prayer meeting in Steinbach against Bill 18 drew 1,200 people. Bill 18 passed without amendments in September.
In 2016, Steinbach resident Michelle McHale reached out to her child's school administrators after he was bullied for having same-sex parents and was told the Hanover School Division had an internal policy not to discuss same-sex relationships in the classroom. She presented her concerns that this was discriminatory to school board trustees and asked for an official policy on inclusive curriculum. The school board rejected this request. It also denied a similar request from a lesbian student in one of their schools. The issue gained national attention when McHale and her partner filed a Human Rights Complaint against Hanover School Division. McHale had been involved in Pride Winnipeg and decided to organize the first ever Pride Parade in Steinbach.
The parade and rally were held on July 9, 2016. Organizers were expecting about 200 people, but over 3,000 people came from the region and across the province and the parade received national attention.
Support for the parade grew when news and criticisms broke that neither the mayor of Steinbach, their provincial representative, nor their federal representative would attend. Federal MP Ted Falk claimed a conflict in his schedule with Frog Follies festival in St-Pierre-Jolys, but when the Follies organizers publicly asked him to attend Steinbach Pride instead, Falk came out to say he would not attend because of “values of faith, family and community.”
At first, the RCMP denied the organizers' application for a permit to march on the street and asked the parade to stay on the sidewalk, but were able to negotiate a route with the city. The parade route went from E.A. Friesen Park to Steinbach City Hall, where speakers addressed a crowd that spilled out beyond the building's lawn.
Speakers included LGBTQ members of the community sharing their experiences, the interim leader of the New Democratic Party of Manitoba, organizer Michelle McHale, and MP Dan Vandal reading a statement on behalf of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.