By Steve Hubrecht
Rainbows are nothing if not resilient.
Local residents — led by the David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA), students from J.A., Laird Elementary School and the Columbia Valley Pride (CV Pride) group — painted two rainbow crosswalks in the district last week – refreshing the one by J.A. Laird and painting a brand new one downtown.
The efforts left a multi-hued glow of goodwill that not even the intentional efforts of vandals could undo. After the students, Pride and other community members spent the entire day on Sunday, May 14 redoing the rainbow crosswalk by J.A. Laird, a vehicle burned out atop the rainbow some time that night, defacing the symbol of inclusivity with skid marks.
The response from Pride, students and other community members was swift and strong: there’s no place for that kind of behaviour.
“It was a beautiful day (on May 14), and I was moved to see just how much support this community has for youth . . . one of the youth said they feel it is important to come from a place that is proud of who they are, and they feel this is the case,” said Pride member Nadine Hale. In terms of the skid marks, she added “we’re not going to stand for it. It’s completely unacceptable. Ninety nine point nine per cent of the community is deeply upset about this. The support we’ve had (since the skid marks) has been fantastic, and emphasizes that they (those who made the marks) really are just a small, outside group.”
Invermere Mayor Al Miller was out all day at the rainbow crosswalk painting on May 14 and told the Pioneer, “I’m frustrated. Invermere is a welcoming, inclusive community, so this (the skid marks) is malicious.” Miller added that as far as he’s concerned the rainbow crosswalks are a key part of the District of Invermere’s infrastructure.
Undeterred by the skid marks, community members rallied and were out in force again on the evening May 15 painting a new rainbow crosswalk across 12th Street on the eastern side of its intersection with 7th Avenue. The prime location smack in the middle of Invermere’s downtown is meant to bring greater awareness of, and hopefully empowerment to, the local 2LGBTQiA+ community.
“Seeing the crosswalks and being a part of painting inspires me and gives me hope for a bright future for Invermere’s queer community,” said DTSS GSA member Finn King.