Community rallies behind Merritt students after rainbow crosswalk rejected by city council

Community rallies behind Merritt students after rainbow crosswalk rejected by city council

Despite a recent council decision to reject a rainbow crosswalk on the streets of Merritt, B.C., there soon could be multi-coloured crosswalks and nods to inclusion throughout the city.

When news broke that the LGBTQ pride group and the Aboriginal Youth Voice Group's proposal was denied by council, calls came flooding in from people in the area, offering space for the rainbow initiative. 

Two Vancouver lawyers offered up their parking lot space, two nearby First Nations offered to put crosswalks on school property, and the students have a meeting scheduled with the local college to talk about ways it can help. 

"I find that Merritt is a very inclusive place and I think that tons of people are just flabbergasted by the decision that the town council and the mayor made," said student Xni Grismer-Voght.

"It's outrageous the amount of support that we're getting."

While none of the offers have been formally accepted and put into action, Grismer-Voght said there is a "very strong possibility" the city will soon be covered in rainbows.

"At this point we'd like to take them up on as many offers as we can," she said.

Sticker campaign

After hearing about council's decision, a local mother designed and printed hundreds of rainbow stickers, at her own expense, for residents and businesses to display in cars and windows.

And it looks like she'll have to print more — at last count, 800 of the 1,000 stickers had been given away at a popular local bakery in just over a week. 

Kerstin Auer said she took on the project "to show that we are not a town of rednecks, and that Merritt is actually very open and welcome to diversity."

Though the stickers are free, Auer said people are asking to donate, and she has decided to use that money to start a fund for a community safe space.

"Not a lot of people feel like the city council did on that decision," Auer said.

Auer has two children who belong to the LGBTQ community. They have told her their experiences in the community have been positive and supportive, and they were surprised to see council reject the crosswalk.

With files from Daybreak Kamloops