In 2019 Pride Toronto received a $250,000 grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage as part of the Commemorate Canada program. This project was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the so-called “decriminalization” of homosexuality in 1969. It also included a celebration of police services and the creation of a travelling Two-Spirit art exhibit.

Pride Toronto never delivered this. Instead, the funds were misappropriated to cover debt incurred from the 2018 festival.

While obtaining the funds from Canadian Heritage, Pride Toronto submitted grant reports that include false claims.

1. $250,000 Grant application

The $250,000 grant application proposed:

Pride Toronto did not use the funds for these projects.

2. False Claims: may 8, 2019 grant report

In a May 8, 2019 grant report submitted to Canadian Heritage, Pride Toronto:

  • Claimed a “fully executed” contract with world famous Cree artist Kent Monkman
  • Claimed a “formal partner” in the Art Gallery of Ontario, who was to provide “match funding” and so the project had “doubled in size.”

Although Monkman was in talks about a project, these talks ended on April 29, 2019, over a week before this grant report was submitted:

“On April 29, 2019 I ended a year of talks with Pride Toronto due to the continued lack of a contract, disagreements over creative control of various project elements, and lack of confidence in Pride Toronto’s management of the project.”

Kent Monkman as quoted by CBC News, January 26, 2022.

The Art Gallery of Ontario provided the following statement in response to viewing this grant report:

“The AGO’s conversations about a potential collaboration were informal and preliminary, and no details of any kind were established.”

The Art Gallery of Ontario, by email July 29, 2021.

3. Misappropriation: April 2020 Grant report

The final grant report was submitted to Canadian Heritage on April 27, 2020.

Although the grant was for the 2019 festival, Pride Toronto redirected the funds to cover debt incurred from the 2018 festival. These include:

  • 2018 “Until we are safe” campaign
  • Commemorating 35 Years of AIDS Activism (June 2018)
  • Other expenses from the 2018 festival
  • This was accepted by the Department of Canadian Heritage

4. VIP Party Passes

The final grant report outlines the activities that replaced the travelling Two-Spirit Indigenous exhibit.

Instead of going to Indigenous artists, the report indicates Pride Toronto invited over 24 members of Fierté Canada Pride to attend the 2018 festival.

The invitations included the cost of travel, accommodations, and an exclusive VIP pass for the Fierté Canada Pride members.

5. Land acknowledgement

The final grant report included land acknowledgment signs that were placed at the 2019 Pride Toronto festival.

These land acknowledgement signs erased Indigenous communities and failed to acknowledge the land on which the Pride Toronto festival takes place.

In 2019, Pride Toronto issued an apology for these signs.

6. Missing Required Audit

As part of the $250,000 grant, Pride Toronto was required to submit a special audit showing where the funds were spent.

Instead, In January 2021 Pride Toronto asked Canadian Heritage to rely on the general audited financial statements. These statements do not provide details on how the funds were used.

The Department of Canadian Heritage agreed to allow Pride Toronto to avoid submitting the required special audit.

7. Blaming artists’ fees: June 2021 CBC report

The CBC first reported on this research in June 2021. Pride Toronto had an opportunity to come forward and tell the truth about what went wrong with this and other grants.

Although Pride Toronto claimed a “fully executed” contract with Kent Monkman, in this CBC report Pride Toronto placed the blame on Monkman’s commission fees:

“In its own statement to CBC News for this story, Pride Toronto said funding was not available at the time to provide Monkman with the necessary commission fees for the project.”

CBC News, June 14, 2021

Pride Toronto used Kent Monkman’s name in three grants worth $1,850,000: the $600,000 CSMARI grant, the $250,000 Commemorate Canada grant, and the $1,000,000 Fed Dev grant. In each case, they used Monkman’s name without authorization. Pride Toronto must explain why they could not provide commission fees given they raised this huge sum of cash.

8. KPMG Review
KPMG Found that Pride Toronto did not deliver on the $250,000 grant. Click here to view the KPMG Grant Compliance Review. Thumbnail is from page 14.

In response to questions raised from this research, Pride Toronto hired KPMG to conduct a review of three federal grants.

For the $250,000 Commemorate Canada grant, KPMG found that Pride Toronto could provide evidence of only two (2) of the ten (10) activities reported in the grant reports.

“Pride Toronto also reported an activity that did not appear to match any Decriminalization Grant deliverables.”

KPMG Review of Pride Toronto, March 16, 2022.
KPMG did not investigate the issue of false claims on grant reports. Click here to view the KPMG Grant Compliance Review. Thumbnail is from page 8.

Despite serious questions related to false claims on grant reports, the KPMG review did not investigate this.

“These allegations go beyond the scope of work KPMG was hired to perform.”

KPMG Review of Pride Toronto, March 16, 2022.

9. Documents

Grant documents were obtained through access to information requests with the Department of Canadian Heritage. The documents can be downloaded here:

A-2019-00392 – All files related to the $250,000 grant, part 1

A-2021-00111 – All files related to the $250,000 grant, part 2