Following in the footsteps of Prince Rupert and Terrace, Kitimat could soon get its own rainbow crosswalk.
After councillors passed a motion in council on April 18, Kitimat District staff has been directed to research locations, costs and possible partnerships to paint a rainbow crosswalk in the District.
Council took the decision following motivations submitted for the rainbow crosswalk by the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce and Tamitik Status of Women.
Chamber executive director Trish Parsons said the chamber has received input from both locals and visitors as to the importance of having a rainbow crosswalk in town, as well as being asked why Kitimat is the only town in the region that doesn’t yet have one.
“We have a very inclusive and diverse community,” said Parsons. “It’s important for the Chamber to support our community and to support local initiatives where we can.”
Tamitik Status of Women outreach worker Michelle Martins said it’s important to acknowledge the adversity and injustices the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (LGBTQ) community continues to face.
“Kitimat, like many northern, rural, remote communities, doesn’t have any services that are specific to serving LGBTQ individuals,” said Martins. “I think it’s critical to address that, because just as we acknowledge certain groups like women and Aboriginal people have specific needs, so do LGBTQ individuals.”
She said the fact that Kitimat is so isolated results in discrimination against a number of groups that is born out of a lack of knowledge and understanding.
“I think it would great for the LGBTQ community to have that acknowledgement and that presence in Kitimat,” said Martins. “However, I would warn not only the city, but any service provider, that putting up any rainbow symbolism doesn’t create safety for LGBTQ people.
“Education and understanding are paramount to acceptance and that, in my opinion, is what creates a safe space.”
She said she is optimistic that a rainbow crosswalk could be a great way for the District and community members to start discussion around how the town can help create safe spaces for the LGBTQ community.