Castlegar celebrated its first annual Pride flag raising on Friday.
Over 150 people turned out to celebrate the city’s LGBTQ+ community and the inclusiveness that has been fostered in Castlegar.
The event began with organizers Coun. Deb McIntosh and Nicole Hergert welcoming everyone.
“It’s a very powerful statement to look out and see this many people here. It really does my heart good to see and what it says about the community at large is just absolutely phenomenal,” said McIntosh.
“Thank you so much for being here,” said Hergert. “This is really important for me to see all these people out here. I think it’s incredible. I’m really proud of Castlegar right now, I’m proud of Deb, I’m proud of everyone that’s here.”
Then Tammy and Steph St. Amand from the Centre for Spiritual Living sang “True Colours” while the Pride flag was raised outside City Hall.
Joan Alexander, spiritual director, spoke following the flag raising, addressing the work that has yet to be done in our community.
“Right here in our city, I have experienced homophobia. This quiet, little 61-year-old, feminine-looking lesbian has experienced homophobia openly on the street and subtly in the way that some folks talk about gender identity and sexual orientation,” she said. “As a spiritual leader in our community, I have colleagues who do not share my openness to all, and some of them have shunned me. I say these things today not to diminish the celebration of our amazing flag raising, but to draw our attention to the work that is yet to be done to truly be a welcoming city.”
Coun. Dan Rye followed, agreeing with Alexander that there was work yet to be done, but also celebrating how far Castlegar has come.
“Eighteen years ago, this month actually, I moved to Castlegar and over the years we’ve seen a lot of things happen and a lot of changes take place. Castlegar is really a moving community going forward and we’re actually the envy of a lot of other communities,” he said. “An event like this today just shows how far we’ve come. As Joan said, we have more to go, but we’re going in the right direction I think.”
The final councillor to speak was Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff.
“My wish for our community is that we only look at each other as the H, the human components that we all are, and we don’t put stigmas or labels on each other,” she said.
The mic was opened up to allow anyone to speak and many members of the community came forward to celebrate inclusiveness and Pride.
Zoe Mackay from the Castlegar Youth Action Network invited youth and adults to attend GBLT discussions at the YAN space on Tuesdays. For more info, visit the Castlegar Youth Action Network Facebook page.
There are also more Pride events happening over the week, including Nelson’s Pride Parade on Sunday at 3 p.m. Visit the Kootenay Pride Facebook page for more information and events.
Everyone who attended also had the opportunity to decorate their own cupcake with a rainbow of icing colours and sprinkles.