While there was a loose network of gay pilots in Canada but Canadian Aviation Pride really started in 2008 as an idea to have a small group of pilots in Toronto that could get to know each other in a safe place, and could network.
Steve Bell, Dean Sela and Peter Litherland along with support from others, the organization coalesced. Social gatherings took place, such as condo parties, brunches, and outings. It was a way for LGBT aviators to connect and socialize. This small group started to expand and pilots from across the country began to get involved. Two main centres for social events evolved, namely Toronto and Vancouver.
In 2012 the group started to change. There were more than just pilots - aviators from many different areas of the industry, including enthusiasts and supporters, were getting involved. In 2013 the name, Canadian Aviation Pride, was established. This name change supported the idea that all aviators were in one community together – in short, inclusive not exclusive.
The group attended its first pride events that summer, in both Toronto and Vancouver, where information booths were set up and attendees marched in the parade. The website was changed from www.gaypilot.ca to www.canadianaviationpride.org. A Facebook page and group were created and a twitter account as well.
In 2014 more social events were created, however pride still remained the big focus to foster awareness and recognition of the group. Two year-end parties concluded that year.
In 2015 the group decided to become an official not-for-profit organization which it achieved in January 2016. Events were planned and published for the entire year. More communication to members was established via a monthly newsletter, which is sent out via email.
In 2016 events such as ATC and aircraft factory tours, career expos, air shows, hikes and pub nights were added to broaden our range of activities, and in Toronto our first joint international event was held with a similar organization from the United States. Late in 2016 a nucleus for a social group in Calgary was established to continue the development of networking opportunities for LGBT Canadians passionate about aviation.
Join us and help us chart a path for the future.