Fierté Sudbury Pride founder warns of young Marxists overtaking leadership

Written By Wyatt Claypool, Posted on June 17, 2020

Despite being founded on the principles of diversity and inclusion, Fierté Sudbury Pride (FSP)  (non-profit since 2012) has seemed to shift away from its mission to bring the community together and ironically enough, has become a vehicle for political division, exclusion, and intolerance for those not of the same political mindset. The current leadership under the new management has left founding members, and membership at large, out of the loop of their newfound political agenda.

One of the many founders of the original Sudbury Pride, Sheila Bianconi, contacted The National Telegraph and told her story of how the organization has fallen away from being the seven day festival of Pride with focus on building bridges not burning them. 

Bianconi claims the new management has tried to erase the integrity of its past, present and future for leaving a legacy she and so many others have maintained since 1997 for the LGBTQ2SIA community of Greater Sudbury and area. 

Bianconi described the beginning of Sudbury Pride saying that “In light of yesterday’s USA landmark, which prevents employers from discriminating against us, this is  what Sudburians fought to achieve in 1997 now just achieved in 2020 for all Americans. It’s been 23 years since we stood up for our rights and now Americans can have these same rights. If we do not stand for something we will fall for everything. Stand up and never allow anyone to silence you as it equals death. The new management at FSP tried to silence me when I simply asked for their plans to celebrate the twentieth anniversary under Katherine Smith and Kelly Perras as chairs for the organization.”

This all changed when people started moving into Sudbury from the West, people which Bianconi called “the new kids on the block” who seemed to have different ideas of what the Pride Week organization should offer participants. Bianconi originally created the event in 2006, which originally focused on inclusive community activities and a parade.

The different ideas in practice put far less emphasis on community and unity in Sudbury among all ages and instead heavily politicizing Fierté Sudbury Pride as a rebellious political entity.

Bianconi recalled one poignant example of the hard political turn saying that, “Danielle ValCheff, the chair of Pride, in a 2019 volunteer meeting raised her body posture where she sat with palms on table aggressively yelling at me Sheila it’s all political!“.

The origins of the new people coming into Fierté Sudbury Pride are uncertain but Bianconi said that, “Since many students and others have transplanted to newer communities overtime I just personally felt that the new kids on the block brought their own agenda and did not respect that our community has deep-seated roots and that trimming a tree isn’t the same as clear-cutting the entire forest.”

Biaconi continued further contextualizing the takeover, “If I relocated to southern Ontario and joined another pride committees and pressed my own agenda I know I would have been told to not let the door hit me on the way out, yet the new kids have done it and told me, a founder, to not let the door hit me on the way out as if I am the newbie?. This isn’t community building, it’s a communist overtaking by outsiders who want to rewrite Sudbury Pride’s history.”

When the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline protests were occurring this meant “the new kids” who now occupied high up positions at Fierté Sudbury Pride supported the railroad blockades which caused the Canadian rail systems to completely shut down for several weeks. 

Sudbury Pride had promoted and participated in protests hosted by the NDP against budget cuts made by the Doug Ford PC made to post-secondary related funding. This had nothing to do with Sudbury Pride but they tried to portray this as somehow related to pride on their Facebook page.


It is not exactly inclusive to bake left wing, environmentalist movements into an organization that is supposed to serve the local LGBT community who come from all sorts of political backgrounds and hold different beliefs on controversial issues.

It is clear that “the new kids” have a Marxist/communist bent. One had even been shown to be a member of ANTIFA in a previous TNT report on Fierté Sudbury Pride. 

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Bianconi explained, “If the protest we’re for LGBTQ+ issues then for FSP it would make sense. The preoccupation with a protest for non-LGBT issues is not what the four cornerstones of Pride were built on.” 

After attending an annual general meeting on October 17, 2017 and being yelled at to leave or be removed by police for minor disagreements, Baiconi said, “it not only added insult to injury but completely disrespectful of the work of everyone before the new kids had arrived with their new agenda. I have been out and providing services, and education to the queer community for 30 years and now I’m told to get out? I have been out before most of these kids were born. If I had known 30 years ago that I would have to defend my place at the table to have a voice and be told to get out I would have chosen a different path to spend my time volunteering and assisting others in my community.”

Internally, the operations of Fierté Sudbury Pride were no better. Sudbury Pride’s past legacy of tolerance and inclusion, financial responsibility and professionalism had also been rejected by the new militant members in leadership.

From many of Bianconi’s stories, it appears there is an overt disdain for her that seems to stem from her resistance to changing Sudbury Pride into a political organization, or simply because the new Marxist types seem to have an irrational hatred for older members, as if they are some ideological enemy to contend with.

On July 8, 2019, at a Sudbury Pride Flag raising and proclamation at city hall Bianconi explaining, “I was confronted by current chair Lee Czechowski and was told if I spoke to any politicians, media outlets or anyone regarding my concerns about Sudbury Pride I would be removed by police.”

Bianconi continued detailing her response to the absurd order saying, “I immediately went to speak to Mayor Brian Bigger. I had been yelled at annual general meetings, harassed by email and phone and had personal visits to my home from current board members trying to intimidate me to the point where I started losing hair from the personal threats, attacks and insults.” 

When Bianconi had spoken to Mayor Bigger, and even said that the continued harassment and mistreatment made her suicidal, Bigger did nothing about the situation and simply sent Bianconi away with no action taken against those currently threatening her outside city hall at the flag raising.

Bianconi went on to describe the lack of care Sudbury Pride had for the emotional distress the new leadership of Sudbury Pride had put her under.

Bianconi said, “Katherine Smith at one point told me ‘you’re not the only one with a disability and mental health issues.’ To think a volunteer coordinator/chair/organizer of a not-for-profit charity that provides inclusion sure likes to slap labels on people including me as if she is privy to my personal health care records to even assume that I have mental health and took all that out publicly? Smith should be removed from any not-for-profit organization that strives for volunteerism. As much as we loved having young people take over for us older folks to preserve what pride has built and stood for something rather than fall for everything, especially disrespectful comments coming from the chair of Sudbury Pride to a founding member is beyond me and no one seems to hold anyone accountable.”

Despite the continued disrespect and resistance to any moderation, Biaconi still says she is determined to advocate for what Sudbury Pride was meant to be from the start, even if others don’t currently support her.

Bianconi explained, “I’ve spoken to other older members of the community and it seems everyone is tired no one seems to have any fight left and continuously tells me to ‘let it go’. I’m sorry but I wasn’t raised that way.”

Bianconi finished her statement to TNT wondering how the current toxic environment at Fierté Sudbury Pride could affect the future generation of the organization and whether or not it will have a chilling effect on the community.

Bianconi stated, “If they can treat me the way they have, what can they do to somebody who doesn’t have the fortitude to stand up to them? I would hate for any young person to move to Sudbury or to come out of the closet to be forced back in because they don’t seem to fit the Marxist status quo.” 

Most people may not think about non-profit organizations as being in need of reform, but Bianconi’s story shows how even community groups founded on the mission to provide tolerance and inclusion within a city can quickly turn into an elitist club dominated by politics and mismanagement of funds.

Wyatt Claypool

Wyatt is a student at Mount Royal University, where he is the president of its Campus Conservative club. In his writing, he focuses on covering provincial and federal politics, firearms regulation, and the energy sector. Wyatt has also previously written for The Post Millennial.

2 responses to “Fierté Sudbury Pride founder warns of young Marxists overtaking leadership”

  1. Sheila says:

    parts 2 and 3 of this trilogy yet to come.

  2. Shae Guerin says:

    The alphabet-soup community now eats their young; a trend over the last five years.