Safe Place program for LGBTQ community launches in Prince Rupert, B.C.

Prince Rupert, B.C., is now the first community in Canada to have an RCMP-led Safe Place program, created to support anyone experiencing anti-LGBTQ hate crimes or discrimination.

Anti-hate-crime program adapted from Vancouver police

RCMP Const. Kayla Radford and Safe Place sticker campaign organizer Christine Danroth outside the Cowbay Café, one of the first businesses to sign on with the program. (Prince Rupert RCMP)

Prince Rupert, B.C., is now the first community in Canada to have an RCMP-led Safe Place program, created to support anyone experiencing anti-LGBTQ hate crimes or discrimination.

Businesses and public buildings can sign up to be designated places where LGBTQ people, particularly youth, can go in order to receive support or call RCMP for help. 

They then sign a pledge and place a sticker in their window to communicate they are a safe place. 

The program is adapted from a Vancouver Police Department initiative launched in 2016, which itself was inspired by the Seattle Police Department.

Prince Rupert's program started after Christine Danroth, who works for the local school district and is involved with LGBTQ student groups, saw the stickers in some Vancouver businesses. She then worked with Prince Rupert RCMP to bring the program to her hometown.

"It means a lot," she said of the RCMP involvement. "It means we have a very big organization that is supporting LGBTQ people, and they're going to help us when we need it, and they're going to be our allies, which is big."

RCMP Const. Kayla Radford, who helped lead the initiative, said she felt it was important to use her position as a police officer to help people feel safe, "regardless of their orientation, gender or beliefs."

Danroth said she is pleased that a number of businesses have already signed up, and she is hopeful the program will spread across the country.

With files from George Baker