Free mom hugs on offer at New West Pride this weekend

Who couldn’t use a free mom hug?

A group of mothers from the Tri-Cities area will be offering just that at the New Westminster Pride Street Festival this weekend. Members of the Tri-Cities Moms Group, which includes more than 8,500 members on social media, attended the Vancouver Pride Parade earlier this month to offer free hugs to anyone who needs them. Now, they’re headed to New West’s Pride event.

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The group will be easy to spot – one member made shorts with “free mom hugs” emblazoned on them, which the group will wear to the event.

“We have decided to do this because a number of our members are concerned about the increase in actions of hate towards marginalized members of our community in the Lower Mainland,” wrote Tri-Cities Moms Group member Tracy Playfair.

She cited the theft of Pride flags, vandalism against rainbow crosswalks and rhetoric against B.C. policies and school resources to support diverse gender identities and sexual orientations.

“Many moms have decided to show allyship at local Pride events and teach our children the importance of inclusion,” Playfair wrote.

“As moms, we wish to raise our children in an inclusive society so they learn to be accepting and others are accepting of them. To model this behaviour, we feel this simple action is a great way to amplify our message of love for all, as well as show strong allyship with members of the LGBT community.”

Tri-Cities Moms Group founder, Heather Anne Hooten, told the Vancouver Courier the response was immediate to an initial post suggesting members attend the Pride events.

One member said some of her friends were disowned by their parents when they came out as LGBTQ+, which struck a chord with Hooten.

“Can you imagine your mom not hugging you because of your lifestyle and how devastating that would be?” Hooton said. “I have two little girls who I love so much, so I’d love to be there for other people.”

For more on this year's Pride event in New West, go to newwestpride.ca/pride-2019/.

Spirit of the Children Society, an Indigenous non-profit serving families in Burnaby, New West and Tri-Cities, will also have a booth on site, offering free hugs.

–with files from Sandra Thomas, Vancouver Courier

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