Students celebrate inclusivity in Haines Junction with rainbow crosswalk

·2 min read
'I think inclusivity is very important and making people feel safe is very important,' says Annika Eckervogt-Brewster. (Submitted by Sarah Monique Chanona - image credit)
'I think inclusivity is very important and making people feel safe is very important,' says Annika Eckervogt-Brewster. (Submitted by Sarah Monique Chanona - image credit)

When a rainbow appears, people often take a moment to look at it.

It's also a symbol used to represent inclusivity and acceptance for the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

That is exactly why students from the St. Elias Community School in Haines Junction, Yukon, decided to paint one in front of the community's convention centre.

Sarah Monique Chanona is a teacher at the school.

She said her class was talking about marginalized people in society, and wanted to do something to make the community a more safe and inclusive place.

"One of the students said we should have a pride poster," Chanona said. "Another one said "we had one and it got torn down."

This sparked a conversation about homophobia within the community.

"It hasn't always been supported and promoted in this town specifically, especially compared to Whitehorse," Chanona said.

"I have some friends who teach at Porter Creek who have things like rainbow rooms. There's crosswalks in Whitehorse that are painted with the rainbow colours to support the LGBTQ+ community."

Karen McColl/CBC
Karen McColl/CBC

'All of a sudden there was paint'

Chanona says once they decided on painting a rainbow crosswalk they emailed city council and the First Nation.

"They ignored us initially," Chanona said. "Then we emailed them again and got some support. All of a sudden, there was paint on Thursday morning."

A team of eight went to work on the crosswalk on Friday morning. The project took 80 minutes to complete.

"It's a huge significance in having this here and where everyone will see and have to stand on," said Chanona.

"It's really important for the whole community to talk about it. Even if some people may not be in full support, that's at least a conversation that can be had now because it's so big, and bright and obvious."

Chris MacIntyre/CBC
Chris MacIntyre/CBC

Feeling safe at home

Annika Eckervogt-Brewster, a Grade 11 student at St.Elias Community School and a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, says creating a safe place for herself and friends is important.

"I've never felt validated in this community, so it's nice to see it," Eckervogt-Brewser explained.

"Whitehorse is a very culturally inclusive town compared to the communities who are much smaller so I'm hoping that will change over time."

Eckervogt-Brewster said the feedback has been positive.

She hopes the crosswalk gets maintained as it fades.

There was even talk about having the younger students maintain it as a school activity.

"I think this is a great project," Eckervogt-Brewster said. "Inclusivity is very important and making people feel safe is very important as well."

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