Abbotsford City Hall flies rainbow flag for first—and possibly last—time for Pride Week

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      Abbotsford made history on July 13 when it raised the Pride flag for the first time at its city hall.

      In response to a request submitted in May by Out in the Valley, Abbotsford city council had voted unanimously on June 15 to fly the Pride flag.

      "We were surprised, pleasantly, when they responded that 'In the absence of any policy to say otherwise, okay, we will'," Fraser Valley Pride Festival organizer Raymond Covenant said by phone.

      Covenant said that about 40 people showed up to attend the flag-raising ceremony with Mayor Henry Braun. He said there weren't any protests. The rainbow flag replaced the Abbotsford flag, and was flown alongside the Canadian and B.C. flags.

      Covenant stated that only "a very, very small but vocal minority that had expressed some concerns" about the flying of the LGBT flag.

      One individual, Richard Peachey of Citizens for a Morally Strong Abbotsford, expressed his concerns at a June 29 council meeting.

      "Frankly, the more he spoke, the less we needed to, which was great," Covenant, who also attended the meeting, said. "It gave us more media exposure and also it gave us a perfect response to those people who would ask why is it necessary to have Pride or why is it necessary to fly the Pride flag and we can simply point to someone like that and say 'That's why'."

      After Abbotsford city council decided to fly the Pride flag, they received requests from various interest groups, organizations, and individuals who wanted their flags flown, including the Senior Citizens' Organization of B.C., the Pro-Life Movement, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, Straight is Great, Sumas Mountain Farms, and Respect Life.

      On July 13, the city council approved an official flag protocol.

      Flags which will be flown include flags of the United Nations; of countries recognized by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, when an official representative is visiting; of official sister cities; and any required to be flown by contractual obligations.

      City manager George Murray said by phone that, like the flags of the other interest groups who requested their flags be flown, the Pride rainbow flag does not qualify according to the new policy.

      Accordingly, the rainbow flag may not be flown again at city hall in the future.

      In the meantime, Fraser Valley Youth Society and Out in the Valley, who joined forces for the first time, will hold the third annual Fraser Valley Pride Celebration. This year has expanded to a three-day celebration, from Friday to Sunday (July 17 to 19). Festivities include film screenings, dance parties, a drag show, and an art show.

      In other local Pride news, another LGBT celebration is being held in White Rock; Out in White Rock is celebrating its third anniversary on Thursday (July 16).

      Comments

      10 Comments

      Barry William Teske

      Jul 16, 2015 at 6:35pm

      A Policy of HATE.
      Made in Canada.
      In other words a complete disregard for potential lives lived that in reality might and will be lost all but for a systemic ignorance that is to be condoned by a 'biased' system of government.
      Thats the impression.
      After all it is in a contract...by obligation.
      We should live with it.

      Holly P.

      Jul 16, 2015 at 9:03pm

      Hah! The Peacheys are probably throwing a fit right now. Shame the flag won't be flown in the future, I did so enjoy reading the angry rantings of Richard and his wife, Gerda.

      Blair Smith @agentblair

      Jul 16, 2015 at 11:19pm

      In my humble opinion, I applaud the hard work of Out In The Valley and the Fraser Vally Youth Society for making this happen even if it is for only one year. ( Surrey has Never done it because they have a flag policy ) The legacy will be the Pride celebrations held annually with the respect of a large percentage of citizens. On behalf of LOUD Business, the Gay and Lesbian Business Association of BC and our charitable arm that grants scholarships to queer youth and allies- WE salute your flag and we will be there THIS Saturday to join with you to make the world a better place. And we will be with you again next year, flag at City Hall or not. Keep the faith!

      Fraser Valley Pride 2015

      Jul 17, 2015 at 7:36am

      We are genuinely grateful for the outpouring of support we have received from the vast majority of our community. The message we are sending to everyone, and most of all our younger citizens, is that diversity should be celebrated, not merely tolerated, and certainly never persecuted nor discriminated against. Happy Pride one and all!

      Harvey Takei

      Jul 17, 2015 at 8:26am

      "any required to be flown by contractual obligations" huh? So why wouldn't this Out In The Valley organization just enter into a contract with the city of Abbotsford to fly the LGBT flag during their pride festivities. Contract could basically be for a $1.

      Hah

      Jul 17, 2015 at 12:48pm

      I think a flag policy is a good idea otherwise every group under the sun would want their flag flown. There is no reason to give gay groups special consideration. They should be treated just like everyone else. Isn't that what they want?????????

      @Fraser Valley Pride 2015

      Jul 19, 2015 at 9:00pm

      Except diversity that extends to demanding a positive law regulating public sexuality. Canadians are simply not allowed to discuss the public regulation of sexuality---private sexuality is one thing, public is another. In the worst case, even if such regulation violated equality provisions, the notwithstanding clause could be used. Not that I would do such a thing, but freedom of expression is way more important than catering to sexual minorities.

      Barry William Teske

      Jul 20, 2015 at 3:55pm

      "freedom of expression is way more important than catering to sexual minorities."

      gay pride.
      this isn't about sex.
      this is about education.
      educating all humanities with a healthy sense of self and that of another while conveying, asserting and demanding a respect for the action of the event.
      i think there should be a straight pride.
      how long now is it that belief has condemned straight people with the same kinds of judgements.
      when delivered constantly as a device of belittlement is sincere belief not a device of inner reflection anymore?
      you are a 'sinner'.
      the term has been and is used against heterosexuals by those with sincere beliefs to instil a communal sense of shame while leveraging and still maintaining power over such individuals.

      Huh?

      Jul 27, 2015 at 8:20am

      Isn't whether you are gay or straight hidden until the bedroom? Why do we care what you do behind closed doors? We need flags to tell people we are gay or straight?

      Morgane

      Aug 12, 2015 at 10:01pm

      We need the pride flag to tell scared people that it's ok to be themselves and live authentic lives. That their neighbour's won't turn on th because they are safe in their city...

      But not in Abbotsford apparently.