TORONTO – Canada’s largest Pride parade marked another milestone Sunday as a sitting prime minister marched for the first time in a colourful celebration that was tempered by last month’s shooting massacre in Orlando, Fl.
Prominent in the procession was a pair of marchers who held a large black banner that read “Orlando” and “We march for those who can’t.”
WATCH: The city of Toronto came alive with the annual pride parade that took place in the downtown core on Sunday.
A group of marchers, dressed in pastel-coloured robes, each carried signs with the name of an Orlando victim as they worked their way down the route.
There was a moment of silence during the parade to remember the 49 people, predominantly LGBTQ, who were killed in a mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.
READ MORE: Toronto Pride Parade will be dedicated to victims of Orlando shooting
A river of multi-coloured floats and marchers came to a halt on Yonge Street and stood in silence along with the masses of onlookers who lined both sides of the route.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Florida tragedy is a reminder that “we can’t let hate go by.”
“We have to speak up anytime there is intolerance or discrimination,” he said as he marched.
Trudeau drew a boisterous reaction from those who lined Yonge Street to watch the parade go by – he has taken part in the parade before, including last summer, but this is his first as prime minister.
The casually dressed prime minister posed for selfies and happily waved a Canadian flag as he greeted parade watchers and frequently found himself surrounded by a crush of revellers. Some chanted his name at times.
Other notable politicians who took part include Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory.
Before the parade, Trudeau attended an outdoor church service in the heart of the city’s gay village where he sang along to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”
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The parade wraps up a month of Pride festivities in Toronto, which saw entertainment heavyweights like George Takei and Lindsay Lohan participate.
The shooting also meant security was higher than usual at this year’s parade. Police were visible even along streets adjacent to the parade route.
Many of the officers seemed to be enjoying the experience, posing for pictures and tweeting them.
WATCH: The co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto says Pride Toronto organizers signed off on their demands, which include the removal of police floats in the future. Peter Kim reports.
The parade briefly stalled when activists from Black Lives Matter staged a sit-in on the parade route. But after talking to Pride officials, the sit-in ended peacefully and the parade continued.