New Brunswick

'I just bawled': Chipman residents seek apology after 'straight pride' flag raised

Chipman residents are still reeling after a "straight pride" flag was raised over the weekend in the small rural community.

'I'm very proud to be from Chipman but I wasn't proud yesterday,' woman says

A straight pride flag was raised in the village of Chipman over the weekend and residents demanded it be taken down. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC)

Residents in Chipman are still reeling after a "straight pride" flag was raised over the weekend in the small rural community.

The flag was taken down a day later, but residents are now demanding an apology from council for allowing the flag to go up at all.

"People just feel they have to be even," Faith Kennedy, co-ordinator of the Chipman Youth Centre, said of the flag's supporters. 

"They want to be equal, but why would anyone want to be equal with people who have been oppressed and discriminated with all their life?"

The flag — which depicts interlinked male and female symbols on a background of black and white horizontal lines — has been raised by some conservative groups in the U.S. in response to gay pride events.

"It promotes that people still don't understand each other," said the 62-year-old.

We don't need to feel that we're being discriminated against, because it's very rare, whereas the LGBTQ, they deal with it on a daily basis, the young and old. -  Faith Kennedy, co-ordinator of the Chipman Youth Centre

In June, Kennedy helped bring a Pride Week to the community. She also proposed a Pride flag, which was also approved and flown in the village.

Kennedy says she was under the impression people in the community felt good about the event and the new flag.

"People perhaps don't say their true feelings in public," she said. "Maybe it's time that we think about education and have a bit more education."

The flag was being taken down on Monday afternoon and replaced with a Canadian flag. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC)

In the spring, Kennedy also approached the village council for a rainbow crosswalk and was turned down because at the time, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure wouldn't approve rainbow crosswalks.

She said it's important people live in harmony. This week she's hoping people in the village become more educated about the history of the LGBTQ community as well as the straight pride flag.

"We don't need to feel that we're being discriminated against, because it's very rare, whereas the LGBTQ, they deal with it on a daily basis, the young and old," she said.

The village, which described the raising of the straight pride flag as a show of respect for "everyone's right to freedom of speech," decided to take it down Monday afternoon after residents complained. 

A day of 'being terrible'

When Cassidy Chisholm first heard about the village's approval of the flag on Facebook, she thought it was just another rumour.

"Frankly, I think it was just ignorance on their part," said the fourth-year student at St. Thomas University in Fredericton. "This is not what should be happening." 

The news didn't sink in until Monday, when she checked her phone and was bombarded by Facebook posts and news headlines about her hometown. 

"I just bawled in class," said the 21-year-old. 

Cassidy Chisholm was announced Ms. Chipman in 2015. In this photo, Chisholm poses beside one of her closest friends, Mackenzie Boyd. (Photo: Submitted)

"Really, I just wanted to drop everything on Monday and go down to the village and do something."

Throughout the day, she tried to comfort and show support to friends in the LGBTQ community and shared her own frustrations with them.

"This is not what we should be known for,'" she said.

The journalism student has always been proud of her hometown and tries to stay involved with the community as much as she can.

In high school, she was heavily involved with sports and was named Ms. Chipman in 2015.

She always makes a point of telling people in Fredericton that she's from the rural community.

Lost pride for day

Monday was an exception. 

"It was just a day of Chipman being terrible," she said. "People know me as the person from Chipman … the idea of Chipman being all over the news for a bad reason — rightly so — is just frustrating." 

She said the flag raising was a poor representation of what her community is all about and she's hoping people will educate themselves about what the flag represents.

"I'm very proud to be from Chipman, but I wasn't proud yesterday and I think a lot of people felt that way."

With files from Information Morning Fredericton

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