Way Up West
by Jan Cox
Nancy Beth Guptill, owner of Sweet Spot Academy, digital and business consulting, conducted a research project recently for the East Prince Women’s Information Centre. The undertaking had a definite Social Justice component to it, asking does cyber violence exist? Who is targeted, who are the perpetrators?
Surprisingly, Summerside’s LBGT community was the number one victim. As Nancy commented, “You know if a group or individual are being bullied there, [online], then they are being bullied everywhere.” Her work lead her to become involved with Include Summerside and to look at other inclusivity issues within the town. “My heart is with community and social justice programs,” she went on to say. “We need to look at things like emergency housing, which is a real problem here, homelessness, health and mobility issues. But housing is a big focus. We need to build up our community.” (You can follow Include Summerside on their Facebook page.)
It was a natural bridge that the researcher crossed to become connected with Pride Summerside. Pride Summerside were approached by the Lobster Carnival organizers to increase the group’s visibility in July. They were delighted to set up their booth downtown on Water Street offering face painting and displaying information and also put together a float in the annual Lobster Carnival parade. “We had between 20 and 30 participants in the parade, we were thrilled,” said Nancy. “The Pride by the Sea kick off event saw great attendance as well.” A Pride dance was also part of the Lobster Carnival festivities.
Management of Uncle Mikes on the Water at Spinnakers Landing, approached the group wanting to hold a Pride event. Owner Mike Perry said, “It was great to be a part of it.”
Because of Nancy Guptill’s enthusiasm for social activities in Summerside and her input to Include Summerside, she was asked to sit on the board of Pride PEI. Pride Summerside information and events schedule can be found under the Pride PEI website. With neighbourhood and municipal support combined with the positive experiences from the last two years, the hope is that Pride Summerside will become a colourful and vibrant part of the community in the future.