A deputation to Greater Napanee council was made opposing the ‘inaccessible’ and non-inclusive location of the Pride flag flown ten minutes from Town Hall.
For three years now, Chris Beauchesne has requested council fly the Pride flag in a prominent, well-travelled part of town – and for three years the flag has not been erected at Town Hall or another prominent location in Napanee.
“Pride month flag location at North Fred Hall is neither visible, accessible, nor inclusive,” Beauchesne told council during a Zoom meeting last Tuesday. “The hope is to foster a community of support and acceptance; the location is to be a visible representation of support. Pride colors and the pride flag represent diversity and love and support.”
Beauchesne began his deputation to council stating, “The purpose of the deputation is to advocate for a more visible and accessible placement for the pride flag, and more visual support from the Town of Greater Napanee during the month of June.” However, the deputation changed to council informing Beauchesne nothing could be done this year, but if planned in advance for next year, perhaps council could better support Pride month in 2022.
“I’m sorry that we didn’t start this discussion… sooner, so we could capture it in this month or this year,” said Deputy Mayor Max Kaiser, adding that the flag “had already been placed” and “hopefully we’ll get to a better place” in the future.
However, Beauchesne would argue that he did start the conversation sooner – in 2019 to be exact.
Beauchesne has requested council fly the Pride flag at Town Hall for three years now. In 2020, council moved Resolution 285/20 “providing direction to staff on the North Fredericksburg location,” to be the official flag and proclamation location – a decision made after CAO Ray Callery recommended either North Fred Hall or Springside Park for ideal locations. Springside Park is located in town and already has a flagpole installed. Council said the North Fredericksburg Hall provided suitable parking.
“The flag could be that one symbol of support that starts conversation that helps children find positive outlets,” Beauchesne told council, adding the North Fred Hall is not in a location where teens and vulnerable persons would frequently, or easily, visit.
“Studies as recent as 2020 have shown that when communities show support for their members’ autonomy to express their identities, overall psychological well-being is higher. The flag is recognized as a symbol of support and the LGBTQ+ community, our youth, recognize this as a symbol of support that provides affiliation and positive feelings of themselves and for their future. It also signals to potential residents that we are supportive and accepting community,” Beauchesne said.
The Greater Napanee Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GNGSA) have proposed a number of possible sites to display the Pride flag in town, including: Springside Park, Strathcona Paper Center, and Town Hall – either on the lamppost with hardware installed for hanging banners, or by installing flagpoles at the Centre Street side of Town Hall. GNGSA has offered to fundraise to cover costs of flags and/or flag poles.
While Mayor Marg Isbester said she agrees with Beauchesne that the flags should be displayed at Town Hall, she said the topic of a proper flag display at Town Hall has often “burned out” due to stalled decision-making regarding Town Hall upgrades. “To me, a solution would be to put three new polls there,” said Isbester, referring to Town Hall. “Nothing was ever meant to diminish [anyone’s] flag,” she added.
Beauchesne added that he didn’t realize a request to fly the Pride flag in June would be necessary every year and that doing so was redundant for such a cause.
“Pride month comes every year in June.
“I just assumed that it was one of those things that, once you make the proclamation, just because it’s such a big deal and other communities around us and it doesn’t seem… like they have as many hoops to jump through. I understand that we have policies for a reason and you guys are just following policies, but it just seems a little frustrating at times,” Beauchesne said. Council explained all municipalities must declare June Pride month every year.
Council’s advice to Beauchesne: organize and plan for next year.
“Let’s make sure that we get ourselves organized so we can we can do this, and all other proclamations and recognitions, in a much better way [next year],” Isbester said, offering Beauchesne to sit down with council or staff to help prepare for next year’s proclamation.