Greater Napanee Town Council proclaims June 2022 ‘Pride Month’

This June, residents of Greater Napanee should expect to see plenty of rainbows as the Town gears up towards its first ever public celebration of Pride month. An inaugural Pride March along the Napanee river is being planned for June 5, 2022, with the support of community members and the Greater Napanee Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GNGSA), a Greater Napanee 2022 Pride Planning Group (GNPPG).

On Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, two correspondences for action were brought forth to the Town of Greater Napanee during the regular session of Council.

The first correspondence was brought forth by Brad Way, which recommended the Council “proclaim the month of June 2022 as Pride Month in the Town of Greater Napanee.” Way’s correspondence to the Council stated that “community members have begun planning Pride 2022 for Greater Napanee,” which has occurred in response to what Way describes as “the significant interest in nurturing a safe space to live and celebrate our differences as a community.”

‘It’s about inclusion, acceptance for all’

Way and the GNPPG received the Council’s support for the Town of Greater Napanee to proclaim the month of June as “Pride Month,” which was moved by Deputy Mayor Max Kaiser and seconded by Councillor Ellen Johnson, with all in favour of carrying the motion.

The Town of Greater Napanee Council votes in favour of proclaiming June 2022 as “Pride Month” at their meeting held Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022.

“I have no issue [with the proclamation],” expressed Kaiser during the meeting. “This is a joyous thing, it’s a happy event. I think it’s something that a lot of people can get behind. It’s about inclusion. It’s about acceptance for all.”

The second motion, brought forth by GNPPG, was to further the group’s proclamation request to Council on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. The recommendation was “that Council note and receive the correspondence from the Greater Napanee 2022 Pride Planning Group; and further, that Council refer the request to staff to continue working with the applicant on their proposal for 2022 Pride celebration options.” Councillor John McCormack moved the motion to note, receive and approve the correspondence and, with the majority of Council in favour, the motion was carried.

‘Countless stories of admiration and appreciation for the effort’

Mayor Isbester did not ask for or receive any comments from Council on the four-page correspondence letter submitted by the GNPPG, which outlined in great detail the group’s initiatives to commemorate Pride Month. Initiatives are to include: painting the walkway at Centre and John Streets at market square in rainbow, such as the example set froth by the rainbow crosswalk in front of Kingston’s city hall; a request for the pride flag to be flown at Napanee City Hall and market square for the month of June, in addition to the hanging of rainbow lamp-post banners funded by GNPPG with Town Staff assistance for installation, and; a request to paint the Greater Napanee sign at Lion’s Gate Park, with help from volunteers at Community Living, in rainbow colours.

“Since we painted the Town with rainbows, we have heard countless stories of admiration and appreciation for the effort,” the correspondence reads. “More than that, we have heard that Greater Napanee wants more and needs more. Our community, which is known for its unabashed support for efforts that bring us together, is very hungry to bring the Pride movement here in full force so that, no matter who you love or how you identify, you will feel safe, valued, equal, and proud to live in Greater Napanee.”

Display of Pride Flag at City Hall still up in the air

Deputy Mayor Kaiser commented that Council will be considering the motion to display a Pride flag at City Hall “later on,” but had no further comments on the matter. This was despite the fact the matter of Napanee’s ‘Community Flag and Proclamation Policy’ was part of the meeting’s agenda, including a report from Town Staff on the Policy, which recommended that “Council note and receive the Legislative Services – Community Flag and Proclamation Policy report; And further, that Council endorse the presented amendents [sic] to the Community Flags, Art Installations and Proclamation Policy; And further, that Council endorse the Half-Mast Flag Policy as presented.”

The topic of displaying Pride flags in Greater Napanee has been in conversation since 2019. In June of last year, the motion to display the flag at City Hall was denied, and a flag was instead installed at North Fred Hall, a much less prominent or accessible location. By continuing to put pressure on Council to display the flag at City Hall, starting this year’s conversation early, and offering multiple locations around the building, GNPPG hopes that this year will finally be the year the flag is flown.

“We believe [this is] a critical initiative for our community, to help [Greater Napanee] become a more welcoming and inclusive place where all persons feel comfortable living their lives as their authentic selves,” GNPPG leads Brad Way and Robert Dorey wrote in their correspondence to Council.

Calls for community support and input for larger program of planned Pride activities

According to the correspondence, the GNPPG has a “larger program of planned activities for the month of June underway,” which includes the Pride march on June 5, a BBQ luncheon afterwards, and an artisan market featuring local LGBTQ2S+ artists.

The planning of the Greater Napanee Pride Month celebrations is open to support and input of all community members. The GNPPG encourages both Council and the community to like, share and engage with their Facebook Group to make this inaugural year one to remember.

“It is our hope that this year’s event will be just the beginning of an ongoing program to develop a safe space in Greater Napanee for LGBTQ2S+ identifying persons, and to promote a welcoming and inclusive community for all,” Way and Dorey wrote.

The full agenda for Napanee Town Council’s meeting this week is available here, and the full meeting can be viewed on YouTube here.

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