Pride Toronto's beleaguered executive director announced his resignation Thursday amid criticism over last month's Pride parade.
In a brief e-mail statement, Mathieu Chantelois said it was time to move on. "I wish Pride the best in the future," said Mr. Chantelois, who now works for Cineplex Media.
Pride Toronto said it will start searching for a new executive director in the coming weeks. In the meantime, its board of directors "will provide strategic direction and support the organization" until a new director is hired, said co-chairs Alica Hall and Aaron GlynWilliams, who declined further comment.
Mr. Chantelois faced criticism in early July when Pride Toronto's 2016 honorary group, Black Lives Matter Toronto, stopped the parade in protest for a half hour. The parade resumed after Mr. Chantelois agreed to a list of BLM demands, including a ban on police floats and booths at future parades.
Police denounced the move as exclusionary, and Mr. Chantelois recanted on his agreement the next day, prompting the resignation of a Pride Toronto staff member and drawing the ire of BLM Toronto. At the time, BLM Toronto vowed to hold Mr. Chantelois accountable.
"I'm not surprised," Syrus Marcus Ware, a BLM Toronto member, said of the resignation. "There are serious implications when an executive director of a major organization does that kind of a flip-flop. It doesn't suggest strong leadership."
"If you're not in a position, ready, willing and able to take an important stance against anti-black racism … then you need to leave and make room for somebody else who can do that," Mr. Ware added.
On Thursday, Pride Toronto announced two town halls, on August 30 and 31, to discuss creating a "safe and inclusive Pride festival" in future years.
BLM Toronto will attend the meetings to reiterate its demands, including more funding and space for black queer and trans groups, Mr. Ware said. "Mathieu's resignation doesn't do anything to change the fact that there's a deeply rooted anti-black racism that's embedded in Pride Toronto."
Mr. Chantelois, a francophone from Quebec, came into the role in January, 2015, with a goal of making Pride political again. Under his leadership, Pride Week turned into a month-long event, and last month's parade drew Justin Trudeau, the first prime minister to march at a Pride parade.
In 2001, Mr. Chantelois appeared on the reality show U8TV: The Lofters, which filmed eight people 24/7 living in a Toronto loft for a year. He went on to work in television before taking on roles at Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada and The 519, a Church Street community centre that has become a Toronto LGBTQ hub.
Editor's note: An earlier digital version of this story incorrectly spelled Alica Hall's first name. It is 'Alica' not 'Alicia.' This version has been updated.