How many people are needed to paint a rainbow crosswalk?

April 6, 2016



It can be hard to be ‘out’ in interior BC.

LGBTQ folks in small towns often escape their communities to be their true selves and live free from discrimination.

Last summer, a young resident of Smithers decided to do something about this.

Anna Ziegler reached out to the town’s municipality and suggested a rainbow crosswalk be installed at a prominent intersection in town. She believed it would make the town more welcoming.

Right after the municipal government announced they would adopt the suggestion, a small but vocal group of ‘anti-rainbow warriors’ emerged and threatened to block the initiative.

A passionate debate followed for a couple of months until winter hit and support for the initiative dwindled.

Someone had to step up and take the lead to make sure the rainbow crosswalk happened.

The Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre Society is located right at the intersection where the rainbow crosswalk would be painted. They work to promote community well-being and provide a safe environment for all people, including LGBTQ folks. They don’t usually get involved in political matters, but they decided it was important to make sure the LGBTQ folks they serve felt supported.

If the initiative failed, many of their LGBTQ clients and friends would feel much more at risk.

They wanted to take the lead, but they needed knowledge and tools.

And here’s where we come in. After the Dze L K’Ant Friendship Center reached out to QMUNITY, Education Coordinator Joel Harnest flew up to Smithers to offer knowledge, language, and tools for the centre’s team to be able to better serve and discuss LGBTQ issues.

A couple additional guests were in attendance during the workshop, including Smithers’ mayor Taylor Bachrach, who voted in favour of the initiative when it was presented to city council. He had previously told Daily Xtra that

“Big cities shouldn’t have a monopoly on inclusion.”

The rainbow crosswalk is scheduled to be painted this summer.

All we can say is major #qudos and all the rainbow power to you, Smithers community. Your commitment to support and celebrate LGBTQ lives is inspiring.

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Image courtesy of Alicia Bridges, Interior News

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