High River Pride Founder Says New Safety Funding Is ‘Unfortunately Necessary’ – OkotoksOnline.com

While allies of the LGBTQ community in High River are praising a government funding announcement, they also wish it wasn’t necessary.

“I’m glad they’re providing the funding, but I’m sad it exists,” said Halle Minkler, director and founder of High River Pride.

On Monday morning, the Liberal government announced up to $1.5 million for Fierté Canada Pride to manage funds to support security needs for Pride festivals. The money will help offset rising security and insurance costs, including additional security and training to increase the capacity of volunteers and community members.

“While the government is committed to supporting organizations like Fierté Canada Pride, we must ensure that the rights and safety of all Canadians are protected,” Marci Ien, Minister of Women, Gender Equality and Youth, said in a statement.

“No one should have to live in fear of being who they are.”

Minkler welcomed the news as the local Pride Society prepares for one of the biggest events of Pride Month.

A rainbow crosswalk will be painted on 5th Avenue in front of The Venue after City Council approved an updated motion to allow the crosswalk to go ahead, provided High River Pride takes responsibility for its maintenance.

When Council approved the crosswalk, they also said they would install safety barricades and security guards through RCMP or Protective Services if necessary.

“We’re trying to get a couple of peace officers, one at each end of the barricades, because we have 5th Ave. close about half the day,” said Minkler, who added that most of the Council did not realize the crosswalk was necessary. until they encountered opposition from residents.

While discussing the rainbow crosswalk motion at their May 27 meeting, several council members acknowledged receiving emails and phone calls from residents concerned about the project.

“We’ve seen a lot of division and that surprised me,” said Councilwoman Jenny Jones. “It’s really painful to see that come out in some of the things we were dealing with, just above something like this.”

Mayor Craig Snodgrass said he spent hours on the phone with several residents to get their views on the crosswalk. While he didn’t name anyone or group in particular, he said the conversations showed that many in the LGBTQ community are not welcome in High River.

“Some people don’t even want to acknowledge that the LGBTQ community even exists,” he said. “I have a serious problem with this because I believe we are a community that accepts everyone, and that everyone belongs here.”

For Minkler, she believes the city has made progress over the years, but there are still many who don’t feel safe. She said she knows many young people who left High River as they entered adulthood because they didn’t feel the level of acceptance they hoped for.

Minkler added that despite the decline in Pride activities in the city, the community is making progress.

“It’s growing in terms of more people moving here and I think there are more and more GSAs in schools. “I think there are more opportunities for young people to feel involved, safe and be themselves,” she said.

The painting of the rainbow crosswalk will take place on June 15 at the center crosswalk on 5th Avenue, followed by a party in the gazebo at George Lane Park.