Nfld. & Labrador

'To me, it's peace and love': Springdale students make appeal for rainbow crosswalk

After a contentious week, students at Indian River High School in Springdale gave a presentation to the town council on Monday.

Students plead case for LGBT crosswalk at weekly council meeting

Members of the Indian River High School Gender-Sexuality Alliance link arms following a meeting with Springdale town council Monday. From left to right: teacher Ruth Cameron, Grade 11 student Megan Paddock, and Grade 12 students Maria Lawlor and Claudia Lilly. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

It will be at least one more day before councillors from Springdale make a decision on whether to allow a rainbow crosswalk in their community.

Students from Indian River High School's Gender Sexuality Alliance gave presentations to Springdale's town council on Monday night, once again asking for the town's approval for a rainbow-painted crosswalk immediately outside the town's only high school.

To me, it's peace and love.- Maria Lawlor

Megan Paddock, Maria Lawlor, and Claudia Lilly spoke to Springdale's town council in front of a packed council room. 

While councillors listened to their presentation, the town council made no decision on the proposal on Monday night; Mayor Dave Edison said a special council meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, although on Tuesday morning town officials told CBC News there were no plans to do that.

Students who want a rainbow crosswalk to support the LGBTQ community made an appeal to the Town of Springdale on Monday evening. 1:23

"We expected not to have a decision tonight, because it's a lot of information to take in," said Megan Paddock, a Grade 11 student.

Some supporters and onlookers — including a CBC News reporter — were held outside the council room, as Springdale fire department officials said the room was at capacity.

It was standing room only at the Springdale town council meeting Monday. (Martin Jones/CBC)

"The biggest point we are trying to get across when we requested this sidewalk was to be able to include the LGBTQ community and show our support for them, because it's still a huge problem in our society," said Paddock. 

"The more support we have, and the more we recognize it, the better it will be, the more it will be accepted."

'Peace and love'

Lawlor, 17, said a rainbow crosswalk promotes inclusion.

"To me, it's peace and love and I think that's really what our world needs," he said.

"It makes everyone feel welcome, anybody. And I think people would really like to see it, cause I think, again, that's what we need, especially in a small town."

A home in Springdale showed its support for the LGBT community by putting a rainbow outline on its fence. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Lawlor said town councillors asked if there were other ways to support the group, aside from a rainbow crosswalk. She says she's focused on the original goal.

"Based on where we are and the communities we live in, we are behind compared to most of Canada," added Claudia Lilly. "But I am very surprised and very glad to see the changes from just a few years ago of how much support, how much love we've been given."

On April 9, Springdale voted 4-3 against the crosswalk. Edison, who cast the deciding vote, told CBC News he did not want to create division in his community.

Edison refused an interview following Monday's meeting, as did the town's deputy mayor, Shawn Weir.

Dave Edison, the mayor of Springdale, refused an interview request. He said he has faced a lot of criticism since the Town of Springdale voted against the installation of a rainbow crosswalk. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Ruth Cameron, one of the Gender Sexuality Alliance's teacher sponsors, said her group offered to fundraise to cover the costs of sidewalk painting themselves, in an attempt to address some of the concerns from town council.

"They may not be changed tonight, and it might not happen overnight," she said. "Beliefs are so deep and they change gradually, but the process has started. And it's just as important to start the conversation as it is to finish it." 

Craig Pelley holds a pride flag outside Springdale's Town Hall during a meeting of council on Monday. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

About the Author

Garrett Barry

Journalist

Garrett Barry is a CBC reporter based in Gander.