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Courage to be yourself

Rankin Inlet Pride parade growing ‘exponentially’
Roughly 70 people of all ages took part in the Pride walk in Rankin Inlet. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

For Chase Irniruluk Powell, being part of the Pride parade is about showing that it’s okay to be ‘out.’

“In the past we haven’t had much exposure to he LGBTQ2S community, so there are a lot of people who are very shy to it, very against it, so our goal was to gather as much Rankinmiut and guests as we could and to show that we’re proud of who we are and that its okay to be out as part of the LGBT community,” said Powell, who’s lived in Rankin Inlet since 2007.

“I think we’ve done that today. We’ve had so many people here who are proud to show their support, so many people who are openly out as gay or trans or whatever.”

Roughly 70 people attended the parade on a very hot and sunny Saturday, June 11. That’s more than double last year’s parade, as support is growing ‘exponentially’ according to Powell.

Powell, who is openly gay, said joining the Pride committee was about inspiring other people to be who they are.

“In this community, in this day and age you can be whoever you are,” he said. “You shouldn’t be afraid of what other people think.”

When Powell first started expressing himself through the use of makeup and how he dressed, he got backlash from some people in the community.

“But now when I go out, it’s very normalized, with me personally,” said Powell. “People aren’t staring as much as they used to, people aren’t saying comments as much as they used to. I can definitely feel a big change toward the better with the scene in Rankin Inlet.”

His philosophy for people who don’t like his Facebook posts or the way he looks: “That’s your opinion, that’s up to you to deal with, I’m going to be me.”

When asked what advice he would give someone who is not comfortable being out yet, Powell said the biggest thing is just the passage of time.

“My advice is it feels difficult right now and it feels scary right now, but with time comes perfection,” he said. “You’ll find the courage, you’ll find the people you’re comfortable with. Honestly, it’s kind of like a waiting game.”

Rhea Eecherk waves Pride flags during the walk. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Senna Oolooyuk helps lead the Pride parade through Rankin Inlet. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Andrew Nordman shoots a bubble gun at the camera. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Chase Irniruluk Powell speaks during the introduction to the Pride walk. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo