Nfld. & Labrador

Newfoundland town that nixed rainbow crosswalk hoists Pride flag for first time

It might not be the rainbow crosswalk they once dreamed of, but members of the Indian River High School Gender-Sexuality Alliance are celebrating a first for the town of Springdale: a whole Pride Week.

Springdale mayor declares June 4-8 Pride Week

It was all smiles as the town of Springdale raised the rainbow flag at city hall. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

It might not be the rainbow crosswalk they once dreamed of, but members of the Indian River High School Gender-Sexuality Alliance are celebrating a first for the town of Springdale: a whole Pride Week.

At council on Monday, Mayor Dave Edison issued a declaration and raised a rainbow flag outside of town hall in the small rural community in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Springdale Mayor Dave Edison signs a proclamation declaring June 4 to 8 Pride Week in Springdale. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

The rising of the flag comes in the wake of national scrutiny for the town after council members twice refused to paint a rainbow crosswalk in front of the local high school.

"This marks the first pride week in Springdale, and it's purpose is to create a safe and inclusive Springdale that supports LGBTQ2+ persons, their friends, families and allies," Edison said as he read his declaration.

"Newfoundland and Labrador is a society open to everyone, including the LGBTQ2+ communities."

Edison was joined Monday by a dozen GSA members, including Claudia Lilly, Megan Paddock and Maria Lawlor — the three that gave a presentation pitching the crosswalk in April.

Pride week a victory for GSA

Following the rejection, council promised to keep working with the group to find alternatives, and eventually announced Springdale's first Pride Week.

Indian River High School students Megan Paddock (left), Claudia Lilly, and Maria Lawlor are seeing their hard work pay off at Springdale's first ever pride week. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

"It's really gratifying to see how far we've come," said Grade 11 GSA member Megan Paddock. "Even from getting denied, to having a pride week, and having all these activities to do for the community," 

Claudia Lilly — who is graduating from Indian River High School this year — said she didn't think a Pride Week would come to town after her group was turned down.

"The denial of the crosswalk did bring down our spirits, but we kept fighting" she said

"When you believe in something and you know it's important to you, it's important to keep fighting for it."

Indian River High School has a rainbow picnic table. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

On Tuesday, Pride Week will continue with students from the alliance holding an information session at the Springdale Public Library, where they will talk about what they do and what it means to be an ally.

On Wednesday, the town will hold a Pride march.

It will be followed immediately after by an all faith service at Grace United Church that will help attendees learn how to stand up against homophobia and transphobia.

The Springdale GSA's Pride events won't end there, either — they're slated to be Pride marshals at the 2018 edition of St. John's Pride this summer. 

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Garrett Barry