Thursday, March 1, 2018

Pincher Creek Pride proposes ceremony and flag raising

Jonathan Skrimshire - Council for the Town of Pincher Creek has received a request to participate in a short ceremony in recognition of the victims of homophobic violence. Andrew Glen McCutcheon, founder of Pincher Creek Pride, appeared before Council at their meeting of February 26 to present the group's proposal for "a small ceremony and the raising of a Pride flag outside Town Hall on June 12th".

"I would see this as a very small and sombre event", said McCutcheon. "Not necessarily a celebration of Pride, but a recognition of what that means to people in Canada and people of Alberta and people in Pincher Creek [...] What this event would look like would be a raising of a flag, speakers from the Town, [...] myself, and possibly somebody from one of the local churches. Then a moment of silence would be held for those who have been victims of homophobic violence."

McCutcheon spoke briefly to the motivation for the proposed event. "A lot of people ask 'Why do we have Pride to this day?' We have equal marriage. Sexual and gender identity is protected by law", he said, before presenting statistical evidence of grossly disproportionate suicide rates, disproportionate rates of incidence of workplace bullying, and other social challenges that LGBTQ individuals continue to face in our society.

McCutcheon cited a number of high profile cases of violence against LGBTQ individuals in Canada, including the 2010 firebombing of a gay couple's Prince Edward Island home, the 2012 beating death of Halifax activist Raymond Taavel, the 2012 stabbing death of January Lapuz in New Westminster, B.C., the 2013 stabbing attack on Scott Jones in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, which left Jones permanently disabled, and the present-day case of Bruce McArthur, now facing six counts of murder in an ongoing investigation of a series of disappearances in Toronto's gay village.

McCutcheon also cited the 2016 mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. "On June 12th, 2016, 49 people were killed and 58 were wounded at the Pulse nightclub in Florida - the deadliest mass shooting in American history", he said, indicating that acknowledgement of that event was his reason for selecting June 12th as the date for the group's proposed ceremony.

McCutcheon suggested that a public ceremony of this nature could assist in the effort to attract young professionals to Pincher Creek. "One of the things people at this age do before they move to a community - especially a rural one - if they identify as LGBTQ, is they will Google it", he said, indicating that civic expressions of tolerance and the public's reaction to them are closely monitored by the LGBTQ community.

"I am happy to say that I have been on the receiving end of homophobia very seldom in this community", said McCutcheon, wrapping up his presentation. "I think that if we could do this for the town and for the people of the town it would be a wonderful opportunity, and I look forward to [...] what we can do as a partnership".

Council will respond to Pincher Creek Pride's proposal at their next regular Council meeting, Wednesday, March 7.

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