British Columbia

Merritt hotel paints rainbow across parking lot in solidarity with Indigenous, LGBTQ student groups

Several local businesses and individuals from across the province offered up space and money for students to paint a rainbow crosswalk. The Coldwater Hotel, however, was the first to get paint on the ground and a flag in the air.

City council rejected students' proposal in February to paint rainbow crosswalk on city property

Merritt community members showed up last weekend to paint a rainbow across the Coldwater Hotel parking lot, in solidarity with a group of high school students whose proposal for a rainbow crosswalk was denied. (John Allison Reid)

The historic Coldwater Hotel in Merritt, B.C., is now sporting a 12-metre rainbow across its parking lot.

In February, a group of high school students presented a proposal to city council to paint a rainbow crosswalk at a public intersection, to demonstrate the community's commitment to inclusion and acceptance.

City council rejected the proposal because they said they were worried other groups, like the local hockey team and the Rotary Club would want their own crosswalks, too.

Several local businesses and individuals from across the province offered up space and money for the students to paint a rainbow crosswalk. The Coldwater Hotel, however, was the first to get paint on the ground and a flag in the air.

"We just kind of took it upon ourselves to invite them down to paint their rainbow in our parking lot to show our support for the kids in this town," said Marla Reid, co-owner of the hotel.

Students from the high school, along with younger students and other community members came out to help with the project, which was paid for by the hotel owners.

The hotel also raised a pride flag that looks liked a Canada flag, but with rainbows in place of the red bars on the sides. This has garnered the most attention. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves a flag as he takes part in the annual Pride Parade in Toronto in 2016. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

"There's people that think that we have personally defaced the Canadian flag," Reid said. "No Canadian flags were harmed in this."

Reid said this isn't a Canadian flag, it's a "recognized pride flag."

"The message and everything behind this was one of such positivity and inclusion. I don't want to find that something we've done has offended anyone because that was not the intent there," she said. 

Reid said the flag will be up for a short time to show solidarity with the students who originally proposed a crosswalk. 

About the Author

Courtney Dickson

Broadcast and Digital Journalist

Courtney Dickson is a journalist working in Kamloops, B.C. Email her at courtney.dickson@cbc.ca with story tips.

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