Kelowna’s spirit of inclusion was on display for all to see outside Kelowna City Hall Wednesday.
Following the annual public reading of a proclamation by Mayor Colin Basran declaring October “Inclusion Month” in the city, a large group of people, including Basran and the area’s two MPs, lined up outside city hall, held hands and sang the national anthem. The line stretched for nearly a block.
“Looking (south) of the boarder, when so much is being made about division, particulalry when it comes to ethnicity, it’s really sad to see,” said Basran, alluding to the current U.S. presidential race and comments made by both the Republican nominee Donald Trump and his supporters.
Basran said he and his council have made no secret of the fact they want to see Kelowna be a community welcoming to all people.
“Diversity is something that we would like to see more of here,” he said.
Basran dismissed as “ridiculous,” the notion that the city is being too “politically correct” with the initiative it has taken and is continuing to take to make the city more welcoming to all, regardless of age, sex, sexual orientation, intellectual development, race, religion or social stature.
“The fact of the matter is there are people in our community who are still being discriminated against,” he said, adding he will not stop working to end that until all are treated equally.
The city proclamation, made on behalf of Pathways Ability Society—a local group that works with people facing developmental challenges—has become an annual event outside city hall, as has the “inclusion chain” which features those on hand lining up on the sidewalk in a symbolic show of solidarity.
Pathways marketing representative Adam Less said by having Basran, Kelowna-Lake Country Liberal MP Stephen Fuhr and his Conservative counterpart from Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, Dan Albas on hand helps raise awareness about “diversability” in the community.
“We all need to recognize the value that every individual plays in the community,” he said.
Noticeably absent this year were all three provincial MLAs who represent the area—Premier Christy Clark (Westside-Kelowna), Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick (Kelowna-Lake Country) and Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson (Kelowna-Mission).