Opening ceremony for inclusive Penticton crosswalk marred by vandalism
There was a strong show of support at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for an inclusive crosswalk in Penticton, but some people apparently don’t appreciate it because plenty of skid marks have already been left behind.
There were about 100 people at the ceremony this morning, June 2, including members of Penticton city council, the Penticton Indian Band, an very colourfully-dress students and staff from Queen’s Park Elementary – the nearby school that spearheaded the project.
Everybody at the ceremony seemed to embrace the values of tolerance and acceptance. But whoever marked up the crosswalk is leaving members of the LGBTQ community with the impression that they are not accepted by the entire community.
“It’s a small percentage but that’s what we’re fighting everyday,” said Darrien McWatters, a member of the LGBTQ community who was at the ceremony.
“People who identify as a different gender than what the norm may be, or a different sexuality – it’s part of human nature. It’s part of what comprises diversity all around the world,” he said.
McWatters was disappointed to find out how quickly and frequently the new crosswalk has already been vandalized – especially because of how many young students use it and see it everyday. But she’s not surprised that some people feel the need to send such a message.
Nicole Simons, the teacher who collaborated with Queen’s Park students to have the crosswalk installed, said the skid marks are only revealing the tip of the iceberg, and members of the LGBTQ community have to deal with the full weight of it everyday.
Last week, Simons drove over the crosswalk less than 12 hours after it was installed, and noticed a skid mark had already been made.
“My heart sank,” she said.
In addition to the rainbow symbol, Simons said it was also important to include the eagle feather on the crosswalk to represent the local First Nation, and as a step towards truth and reconciliation.
Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel said it was inspiring to see how much the project mattered to so many youngsters, and he didn’t want to focus on the detractors.
“There’s enough hate in this world,” Gabriel said. “Every community’s going to have somebody who’s going to criticize or dislike what’s happening, and that’s fine, its unfortunate that happened but I think the intent of (this morning’s ceremony) should overshadow any negative responses of vandalized acts like that.”
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