British Columbia

Merritt, B.C. high school students invited to march in Vancouver Pride parade

Students from the Pride Club and Aboriginal Youth Voice Club from Merritt Secondary School were invited to participate in the parade after their request for a rainbow crosswalk was turned down at city council.

'We wanted the students to feel the outpouring of love and celebration,' says Vancouver Pride Society

After their proposal for a rainbow crosswalk was turned down earlier this year, students from the Merritt Secondary Pride Club and Aboriginal Youth Voice Club will be heading to Vancouver to march in the Pride parade. (CBC)

A group of high school students from Merritt, B.C., whose pitch to build a rainbow crosswalk was rejected by city council, will be marching in next month's Vancouver Pride Parade.

The Vancouver Pride Society invited the students from Merritt Secondary School's Pride Club and Aboriginal Youth Voice Club to participate in the parade after their request for the crosswalk last February was turned down. 

At the time, municipal leaders expressed concern over who would maintain it and where it would be located. Councillors also argued approving the request might prompt other groups to ask for crosswalks in their respective colours.

"I'm somewhat sympathetic but I'm also wondering whether we're setting a precedent for every other group in town that wants to have a crosswalk painted," said Councillor Kurt Christopherson at the time.

Despite council's rejection of the crosswalk, support from across the province poured in, and now 15 students will be marching in the Vancouver Pride parade along with other school districts from the Lower Mainland.

Anonymous donors have covered the students' travel expenses to ensure they make it to the celebration.

"We wanted the students to feel the outpouring of love and celebration and let them have the ability to be exactly who they were with thousands and thousands of other people," Andrea Arnot, executive director of the Vancouver Pride Society, told Daybreak Kamloops' Shelley Joyce.

The bus taking the students to Vancouver holds 50 people, so Katie Spencer, a teacher at Merritt Secondary and sponsor of the school's Pride group, said supporters from the community will come along too.

"They were all already planning on going on their own to watch Pride," Spencer said.

She noted that several other locations around Merritt have painted their roads with rainbows, namely the Lower Nicola Indian Band and the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology campus.

The institute of technology recently announced a bursary for all high school students from the school district, which would cover the first year of study.

"So they'll be actually crossing a rainbow crosswalk when they go to school next year," Spencer said.

The students will also be marching in the Kamloops Pride Parade on August 26.

To hear the full interview listen to media below:

With files from Daybreak Kamloops

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