This morning, Borderland Pride joined representatives of the Rainy River District School Board (RRDSB) and students at Fort Frances High School (FFHS) to share reflections on the ongoing importance of Pride in our community and to hoist a rainbow flag to mark the start of Pride Month.
June is recognized around the world as Pride Month. It is also when over a dozen local events and initiatives that are part of Borderland Pride’s 2023 festival, Pride Awakens, will take place celebrating 2SLGBTQIA+ diversity and inclusion in the Fort Frances area.
This year the Pride flag was raised by SAGA, the student group that promotes Sexual And Gender Acceptance at FFHS. On hand were also Fort Frances Mayor Andrew Hallikas and representatives of the RRDSB.
“FFHS and Borderland Pride are proud to recognize Pride Month with the raising of this flag,” said FFHS students and SAGA members Arianna Hyatt, Christen DeGagné, Cassidy Strom, Timea Enge, Daxon Badiuk, John Walchuk, and Elizabeth Cousineau.
“Fort Frances has proven to be a progressive community. Whether it was with the unveiling of the plaque commemorating Dianna Boileau, who was born in Fort Frances and was one of the first Canadian citizens to undergo gender affirming surgery, or with the support that you can see within the community with households showing their support with the multiple worthy causes throughout the year. Support for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community has come a long way, but there is still progress to be made to end discrimination against the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Today’s raising of the flag is to show that FFHS, Borderland Pride, and SAGA are here to continue to provide inclusive communities for all and to help end discrimination as well as ending misinformation in regard to 2SLGBTQIA+ community and issues.”
In solidarity with some of the most vulnerable parts of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, the flag raised today was not the usual rainbow flag, but a design known as the Progress Pride Flag. This flag overlays the usual 6-striped rainbow with a chevron on the left side that features black, brown, light blue, pink, and white stripes. The intention of this design is to bring some of the most marginalized communities to the forefront of the Pride movement – including racialized members of the community and trans and gender diverse people. The arrow points to the right to show forward movement, but also that progress still has to be achieved.
“The kids are alright, and young people are showing so much leadership in their understanding of diversity and inclusion in communities across North America,” said Borderland Pride director and festival co-chair Douglas Judson.
“That’s why Borderland Pride is very pleased to kick-off our festival – Pride Awakens – by shining a light on our youth. While so much of the hatred, misunderstanding, and legislated bigotry we are seeing in our world and reading about in the news is driven by the misunderstandings and misinformation of adults, young people are driving positive change. We can learn a lot from them. Recognizing the value of all members of the community and what we can learn from one another when we are all included is part of the community-building that the Pride movement strives to achieve.”\
Each year Borderland Pride chooses a new partner for its flag-raising event to demonstrate the widespread community and institutional support for Pride across the region. The RRDSB has been a pioneer in the local Pride movement and the local education community has been a longstanding source of support for Borderland Pride.
In addition to the RRDSB, Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario locals, Seven Generations Education Institute, the United Native Friendship Centre, and other local education organizations have been active participants and supporters of area Pride programming.
For more information about this year’s Pride activities, visit Borderland Pride’s website, Facebook page, or see the 2023 Pride Guide that was included in the May 24, 2023, edition of the Fort Frances Times.