For the first time 2019, McMaster EngiQueers marched in this year’s Toronto Pride Parade

The Toronto Pride parade returned to the city’s streets for the first year since 2019. Among the official marchers was the McMaster EngiQueers, a student group focused on advocating and providing a safe community space for 2SLGBTQIA+ engineering students.

The club was founded in 2013 when five McMaster University engineering students attended the Toronto Pride parade and saw engineering student groups from three other universities representing their school and community. Inspired by what they saw, they started McMaster EngiQueers.

Today EngiQueers has expanded across the nation with over 25 participating universities. EngiQueers Canada collectively represents all the member groups and is now a nationwide non-profit organization. The organization aims to celebrate, promote and advocate for diversity and inclusivity in engineering.

"Our main purpose as a club is to create a safe and welcoming space for any queer identifying engineering student but, of course, also any queer student on campus. We are a very small and niche community, so it is important to show other students that they aren’t alone in their engineering, under-grad or grad school journey and that they have a community to support them,” said Nasim Paknejad, co-president of McMaster EngiQueers along with Mymoon Bhuiyan.

"Our main purpose as a club is to create a safe and welcoming space for any queer identifying engineering student but, of course, also any queer student on campus. We are a very small and niche community, so it is important to show other students that they aren’t alone in their engineering, under-grad or grad school journey and that they have a community to support them."

Nasim Paknejad, co-president of McMaster EngiQueers

Marching at the Pride Toronto is one of the club’s major events and members were excited to participate again in this annual tradition. This year McMaster EngiQueers marched alongside University of Waterloo’s Engineering Society and UWaterloo EngiQueers.

The clubs organized the march together as they had done in previous years, prior to the pandemic. They also provided marchers with t-shirts sporting the combined logo of the McMaster Engineering Society and the Waterloo Engineering Society, flags, other merchandise, food and transport.

Tickets to walk the parade with the group were open to engineering and non-engineering students at both McMaster and Waterloo.

With over 75 per cent of the tickets sold, many students, including non-engineering students, joined the parade and represented McMaster. A few alumni also returned to celebrate pride, diversity and love with the rest of the team.

"We had a very good reaction and response from the people who joined us. A lot of people really liked the shirt design that we had and everybody who came to the parade said they had a lot of fun,” said Paknejad.

This year was Paknejad’s third time as an attendee but their first time as a marcher. Throughout her three years in the club, she says the parade was her most memorable experience.

When they first joined the club, it was small and the pandemic had taken a big toll on them. During the pandemic, they poured in great effort to make the club more visible on campus through hosting games and movie nights. However, nothing surmounted to the excitement they felt when finally connecting with club members in-person at the parade and having the engineering faculty recognize finally them as well.

"There were a lot of people watching the parade who saw us. A couple of people told me and Moon that they got accepted into Mac just by seeing us. Both of us were really touched by that,” said Paknejad.

"There were a lot of people watching the parade who saw us. A couple of people told me and Moon that they got accepted into Mac just by seeing us. Both of us were really touched by that."

Nasim Paknejad, co-president of McMaster EngiQueers

Outside of the parade, McMaster EngiQueers hosts a variety of community events and have an active Discord server with channels for checking-in with others students, sharing memes or music and seeking mental health support. Membership to the club is open to allies as well as queer students in or outside of the engineering program at Mac.

The success of the parade meant more than just great planning and organization — it was a day of forming new connections, reinforcing the community voice and celebrating love and living your truth.

For students interested in McMaster EngiQueers, applications for rep positions will be released in the first few weeks of Septem-ber and students can also look forward to fun Welcome Week events this year.

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