MV Council decision on Pride flag challenged

Madawaska Valley Council will receive a delegation from some residents at Tuesday’s Council in Committee meeting who disagree with Council’s decision to display the Pride flag this month on the new digital sign at the Paul J. Yakabuski Community Centre in Barry’s Bay. MV Council voted in favour of the display at the May Regular Council meeting. Spokespersons Noah Kluke and Mark Westen will present Council with a Petition containing 497 signature (The Current spotted some duplications) and 35 letters. Above image: Facebook/Renfrew County Catholic District School Board

Wording of the Petition

“We the citizens of Madawaska Valley Township are disturbed with the MVT Council for designating June as “Pride Month” in the municipality and for authorizing the “Pride Flag” to be displayed on the prominent municipal electronic sign during this time, without any opportunity for opposing views. In justice, we ask that the council rescind this controversial decision and provide an opportunity for community input.”

Examination of the names on the Petition unsurprisingly shows a strong representation from the Seat of Wisdom College community and their supporters. Some Petition signatories also wrote letters to Council to explain their views. The majority were against display of the Pride flag, but the reasons for this view included the wish for prior consultation with community members and a belief that no single group in the community should be celebrated to the exclusion of other (religious) groups. Some of the letters contained references to extremist propaganda and some included hate speech.

Pride Month in Renfrew County

MV is not alone among municipalities in flying the Pride flag.

  • At their May 2 Council meeting, the Council of Killaloe Hagarty Richards voted in favour of flying the Pride flag during June.
  • The City of Pembroke has declared June 1-4 as Pride Week and “River of Rainbow Pride” celebrations in the town will continue during June.
  • Petawawa Town Council overturned its Resolution 11, a rule established in 1998 that stopped the town from making any public proclamation, and announced it will fly the Pride flag for the first time this month.
  • Renfrew Town Council has flown the Pride flag for the last few years and has now given its blessing to complete the Rainbow sidewalk painting outside the Renfrew Public Library on Railway Road. The project was begun last year but not completed.

The County’s school boards are also participating:

  • RCDSB: The Renfrew County District School Board states it “is committed to identifying and eliminating all forms of discrimination and removing barriers to success for students, staff and school communities, regardless of race, ethnicity, citizenship, sexual orientation, gender or faith identity.”
  • RCCDSB: The Renfrew County Catholic District School Board pronounces: “June is Pride month, With Pride, we affirm that everyone belongs at RCCDSB. On the theme of Safe and Inclusive Schools, RCCDSB displays the Pride flag on its Twitter feed and states: “A safe, inclusive and accepting school environment is essential for all.”

The federal and provincial governments both support Pride month and fly the Pride flag.

It remains to be seen how MV Council will deal with this delegation at Tuesday’s meeting. Residents can attend the meeting at the Council Chambers, 85 Bay Street, Barry’s Bay or view the live stream video for the June 6 meeting (in real time or later) on the Township’s YouTube Channel. LINK: https://www.youtube.com/@madawaskavalley8332/streams

Editor’s Note: In view of MV Council’s decision to uphold its Resolution, comments have been closed for this article.

13 Comments

  1. Don Webb

    This community is in the midst of an actual health emergency, with the smoke coming from the fires burning near Lake Traverse to the North of town. The smoke has been choking since 2pm on Sunday…even for me! It wasn’t until 3pm Monday that the township said anything. Don’t you think this latest township fiasco, – over a no-brainer thing like a Rainbow Pride Flag, might have taken the Councils time and attention away from actually keeping residents safe, protected and informed, instead of desperately trying to appease a bunch of homophobic morons.

  2. The Current

    in reply to Christine Oskirko: Thank you for taking the time to submit your comment. As for your statement that all of us have the same rights under the Charter, so “no flags needed.” How do you reconcile this statement with, for example, the pro-life campaigners disturbing passersby by marching along Hwy.60 with pictures of aborted fetuses? We note you have cherry-picked just one point from Pat Scott’s comment. How about the “Love thy neighbour” bit?
    You appear not to be aware of the abundance of discrimination and bigotry that currently exists in Canada including in the Valley targeting 2SLGBTQ+ people. Do you not accept that the harm done to people because of this discriminatory conduct justifies the need to bring public attention to it and to encourage kindness, diversity and inclusivity?
    Your comment also indicates ignorance of the scope of Canada’s anti-hate legislation. As a matter of interest, how do you justify the suggestion in one letter that if the flag is flown here “(Township of Madawaska Valley) may be held liable for the following: The increased risk of STD, Teenage pregnancy, depression, suicide and substance abuse and any other mental illness as a result of homosexual acts.” To the extent that those conditions are more prevalent in the 2SLGBTQ+ community, surely it’s a reflection of the discriminatory targeting and harassment those individuals are subject to.
    Hate speech is defined as: Abusive or threatening speech or writing that expresses prejudice on the basis of ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or similar grounds. (Oxford) Is the motivation and content of those letters and the Petition itself not a reflection of hate speech?

  3. christine oskirko

    Pat Scott is right about the Charter of Rights ,saying that we are all equal under the law. So, based on the Charter, everyone already has all the rights they need to live in our society. No flags necessary. I read all 35 letters and to call them hate speech is beyond ridiculous. If you are going to call it hate speech…back it up with specific examples from those letters…rather than just spewing buzz words. Let’s talk and see which letters offend you so? Our value is not in our sexual proclivities it is that we are made in the image and likeness of God whether we recognize it or not.

  4. Jenny Baklinski

    Madawaska Valley council has voted to display the Pride flag on their electronic sign for the month of June, after a delegation of students brought this request forward last month. This is a wonderful signal of support for our youth and community.
    Please consider supporting your council members through letters and emails, as they navigate a counter delegation at this months meeting.
    Email the clerk at gdombroski@madawaskavalley.ca
    Please review the letters below in the agenda minutes.
    TW – misinformation and harmful rhetoric contained in 30+ letters and a petition to council for June 6 Township Council meeting.
    https://madawaskavalley.civicweb.net/Portal/MeetingInformation.aspx?Org=Cal&Id=1410

    Facebook/June 5

  5. Sharon Taylor

    It’s just a flag. A flag that represents a movement,nothing dangerous.People are born gay,a flag has never caused anyone to change their sexuality

  6. Lynn Flokstra

    What is “disturbing” is religious zealots and the ignorant spreading hate, division and lies like it’s the dark ages. Stand united against hate!

  7. Maureen MacMillan

    I am hoping that MV council stands by their decision to be an inclusive place for all. This would be HUGE for all of the folks who have struggled to be themselves in this community for so many years.

    Facebook/June 5

  8. Pat Scott

    The majority of residents embrace diversity and inclusion, and welcome everyone. I believe God said “Love thy neighbour”. We are all God’s children and equal under the Charter of Rights. Divisiveness pits family against family and neighbour against neighbour and promotes hate. Accept people for who they are and please do not attempt conversion therapy

    Facebook/June 4

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