submitted by Harmen Boersma
Pride Month has taken off in North Grenville for the first time; it has been called “historic” in the EMC headline. Mayor, Nancy Peckford, is quoted as saying “North Grenville was ready.” Organization members are claiming that the celebration was a “culmination of community pride”.
How could this debut event in North Grenville spark to such a bang? Mostly because confidence was gained from a similar event in neighbouring communities of Brockville, Smiths Falls and Perth last year. Local Rainbow Union Dundas Grenville organizer, Holly Brown, met with unexpected enthusiasm by NG council and staff and left with a promise of support.
Her aim is stated as “to raise more awareness in the community with the Pride event”. She hopes “it will create waves in the community. It proves that Pride minority members have lived in North Grenville already for a long time. We will be launching an outreach campaign with pride stickers for business windows and lawn signs and on Facebook.” After the parade one group member is quoted as saying: “I feel like there’s a shift in the culture.” Brown states: “…it’s not over. This is just the beginning.”
RUDG organizers claim that residents in rural communities have stereotype views and opinions (assumed negative or undesirable ones?) about LGBT residents of the community, which has caused them to go to the more ‘diverse and inclusive’ cities. Brown herself travelled to Ottawa for socializing with her preferred community once a month. Big deal! Rural residents travel to the city for all kinds of reasons. Why not Brown for her reason? (There are NG parents who are driving their children twice every school day to independent schools in Ottawa that teach their way of life. Tuition and travel cost are their own responsibility.) To hold a parade in Kemptville, her grassroots organization “lacks funds and capacity that a lot of other groups rely on”. Most active community groups raise their primary funds by charging a membership fee enlarged by additional donations from members; then organize fundraising events. Why not RUDG? The organization promotes inclusiveness and education. What is the expected outcome? If residents know more gay members and their lifestyle, they are assumed to approve it more? Brown is quoted: “To pull off the parade we need people, power and money.” Don’t we all for anything! “Businesses get a superb opportunity to support a great historically relevant event locally. They themselves can boast to be an inclusive and progressive place to do business in our area.” Supporting RUDG is all it takes to accomplish that? “Healthy, strong and active communities are diverse and inclusive communities”. Just cater to RUDG and North Grenville is suddenly ‘on the map.’ As a new organization in this area, it is still unclear what this overstated event will do for RUDG and what it will mean for other organizations and institutions in North Grenville.
Canada has endorsed the same-sex sexual orientation in law in 1969. Gender classification moved from two to more identities and they need protection by law in a democracy. All sub-communities should be allowed to live their lifestyle without interference from other sub-communities. Government has the unenviable role to regulate and monitor their independence and interdependence. We recognize others and they recognize ours in the perfect nation.
Every level of government gets involved in the administration of mandates and actions of sub-communities practiced in the public square. Ideally, government leaders take an impartial position in their administration to protect freedom and maintain good order in our common life. North Grenville council and staff have overstepped their governing responsibility in the way they showed their (our?) support for the Pride event.
By replacing the North Grenville flag of unity, which is inclusive of all residents regardless of their religion, ethnicity, race and sexual orientation, during the month of June it favours two gender subcommunities – minorities – over the majority. Is council not elected to govern and guard the charter freedoms of all residents?
Now is a good time for council to reserve municipal property for government symbols only including all municipal flag posts, buildings and websites.
Mayor Nancy Peckford in her flag raising speech refers to “erasing shame and denial many LGBTQ2 folks experience”. These are not easy feelings to deal with for ANY person. By facing them courageously and knowledgably, character is formed. Are government leaders expected to train for character? That is not their expertise. Acting with a sound (moral) character in governing would benefit the whole community. The residents of North Grenville entrusted the mayor and council with the POWER to govern this municipality. Don’t give it away. Defend it for all of us.