Thunder Bay

'Renewed meaning': Borderland Pride launches campaign to show support for LGBTQ community

The Pride Lives Here Campaign comes one week after the municipality of Emo, a township located about 350 kilometres west of Thunder Bay, defeated a resolution that would have proclaimed June as Pride Month.

The campaign comes one week after the Township of Emo decided not to declare Pride Month

Pride Lives Here campaign signs are becoming available by donation for homes and businesses in the Rainy River District area ahead of Pride Month. (Borderland Pride)

Borderland Pride, a LGBTQ2 Pride organization in northwestern Ontario, launched a new campaign called "Pride Lives Here," on Tuesday, which aims to showcase Pride Month with creative displays throughout the region.

The new campaign comes one week after the municipality of Emo, a township located about 350 kilometres west of Thunder Bay, defeated a resolution that would have proclaimed June as Pride Month.  Emo falls within the Borderland Pride catchment area. 

Peter Howie, co-chair of Borderland Pride, said the campaign has a "renewed meaning" after the recent "setback" to the organization's efforts to promote LGBTQ2 inclusion through the Rainy River District.

"The Pride Lives Here campaign is about promoting visibility of support for LGBTQ2 people, and it's important right now because the decision by the Emo town council suggests that there's a broad support for the other side and this is our way of showing to the community that, in fact, there is broad support and that we are a safe and welcoming community," Howie said in an interview with CBC.

During the Township of Emo council meeting on May 12, Mayor Harold McQuaker voted against the resolution, arguing he didn't see it necessary to fly a flag for Pride Month since there's no flag being flown for the "other side of the coin."

"The other side of the coin, well there's no flags being flown for the straight people," McQuaker said in the meeting, which has since been posted on the Borderland Pride YouTube channel.

Councillors Harrold Boven and Warren Toles also voted against the resolution, citing a desire to revisit the township motion put forward in 2019.

Councillors Lincoln Dunn and Lori Ann Shortreed voted in favour of the resolution, which would have proclaimed June as Pride Month, with the municipality flying or displaying a rainbow flag for a week of their choosing.

"There are a lot of people that are disappointed and frustrated with their town council's decision and they're showing their frustration with that decision and their support for the LGBTQ2 community by posting these signs and by flying flags at their homes and businesses," said Howie.

Pride Lives Here campaign signs are available for homes and businesses in the Rainy River district areas, but not all distribution locations had been announced as of Tuesday. In Fort Frances, signs can be purchased by donation at 700 Victoria Avenue.

Organizers of the campaign are also encouraging everyone in the area to showcase their sense of Pride and inclusion through window displays, lawn decor, social media content, and other creative rainbow displays throughout the month of June, which is recognized internationally as Pride Month.

Howie added that the Pride Lives Here campaign has "worked out really well" as it was something in the works since before the pandemic impacted Pride celebrations, and is still an adaptable activity in the age of physical distancing.

"It builds off of last year...We encouraged people to decorate their homes for Pride. This is a further step by having these lawn signs. It works out really well because it's now our signature event," Howie said.

Borderland Pride 2020 will be observed under the constraints of "social distancing," and the organization plans to announce further celebrations in the weeks ahead.