Renfrew – A small but enthusiastic group gathered outside he town hall on Tuesday morning to see the progressive Pride flag raised as a symbol of inclusivity, acceptance and diversity in the community.
“May this flag always be a beacon of light to show members of the community this is a safe space and we are working towards total inclusion,” Chris Kyte, the founder of Renfrew Pride said as she raised the flag.
Sponsored with the Town of Renfrew Diversity Committee, the flag raising is an important event to show just how far the community has come, she said. This is the second time the flag raising has been held at the town hall with the flag flying in the spot normally reserved for the Town of Renfrew flag. The first time was in 2019 and because of COVID there was no flag raising ceremony in 2020.
This year she was especially excited to see the progressive flag flown which is more elaborate than the traditional Pride rainbow flag and shows the inclusion of all groups representing the LGBTQ2S+ community. The flag has the addition of black and brown representing marginalized people of colour and blue, pink and white referencing trans pride.
The co-operation with, and support from, the diversity committee is exciting for her.
“This is the cool thing about Pride,” she said. “Last year Black Lives Matter was present and this year the Indigenous communities are present.”
Ms. Kyte pointed out Pride started with a black transgender woman who was a sex worker, so in many ways, things have come full circle.
“Pride and Black Lives issues are very connected,” she said.
Pointing out it is important to see Pride activities take place, she said Pride is as much a celebration as a protest.
“A lot of LGBTQ2S+ people don’t have human rights around the world and experience violence and intolerance at home,” she noted.
Tom Sidney, a councillor with the Town of Renfrew and the chair of the Diversity Committee, said he was proud to see the town involved in this.
“It’s pretty progressive to see how evolved Renfrew has become,” he said.
The town has progressive flags on vehicles and in municipal buildings and other areas downtown, he noted.
“The message is Renfrew is a safe community,” he said. “We embrace diversity and encourage people to be supportive.”
He pointed out there is widespread support for the work of the committee and the chair of the police services board was present for the flag raising.
“Renfrew has come a long way, but there is still work to do,” he said.
As the flag was raised, Ms. Kyte said it is a wonderful symbol and beacon of light.
“To see the Town of Renfrew working towards this is wonderful,” she said.
Her own experience has been nothing but positive in the community, she added.
Having the support of the diversity committee has been great to set things in motion and even greater things will be taking place, she said. She noted she is asked by some people why it is important to have a Pride celebration.
“As long as that question is asked, we need this,” she answered. “There is nothing we want more than to live our lives honestly and openly. Renfrew is taking a huge step to help us achieve this.”
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader