North

Historic flag raising events kick off Pride Week in Yukon

Watson Lake raised the pride flag for what is believed to be the first time on Friday, while two progress flags went up in Whitehorse.

Watson Lake raises pride flag, 2 progress flags fly in Whitehorse

The pride flag was raised in Watson Lake, Yukon, on Friday. It was later flipped so the red side is up. (Watson Lake Pride Group)

Two firsts marked the start of Pride Week in the Yukon. 

Watson Lake raised the rainbow-striped pride flag for what is believed to be the first time on Friday, while two progress flags went up in Whitehorse.

Kate Odgers, with Watson Lake Pride Group, said the flag is a "wonderful" way to show the spirit of Watson Lake and its queer community.

Odgers, who is queer, said when she and her partner moved to the community a few years ago, they were apprehensive.

"We were a little concerned as to how we were going to be accepted," she said. "I'm so happy and proud to say that our sexuality has made no difference."

But Odgers said there's always room for change and progress. She said the flag is a symbol of solidarity, and is particularly important for youth who might be feeling isolated because of their sexuality. 

"Sexuality and gender are things we're going to talk about," explained Odger. "The fact that that flag is going to fly means that this is a conversation we can then have." 

2 progress flags in Whitehorse

In Whitehorse, two progress flags were raised for the first time, outside city hall and the Yukon Legislature. The progress flag includes stripes to represent transgender people and marginalized people of colour.

Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis, left, and Joe Wickenhauser, executive director of the Yukon Pride Centre, hold up a progress flag. Progress flags were raised at Whitehorse City Hall and the Yukon Legislature on Friday. (City of Whitehorse)

Pride Week runs from Aug. 1-9 in the territory. Joe Wickenhauser, executive director of the Yukon Pride Centre, said it's a time for the LGBT community to be seen and celebrated.

"People are going to be doing that, I think, mostly online and in smaller social groups," Wickenhauser said. "But I think the message is the same: that there is a community there, that there is love and support. And that it's OK to be who you are."

Events include a paddle on the Yukon River, a kitchen challenge and a drag lip sync challenge.  

Written by Karen McColl with files from Steve Silva and Paul Tukker

now