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‘No place for hate’: Penticton’s leaders address backlash against rainbow crosswalk

A new rainbow crosswalk has been installed on Power Street from Queen’s Park Elementary
A newly-installed rainbow crosswalk from Queen’s Park Elementary School to the Penticton Trade Convention Centre on Power Street. (Brennan Phillips/Western News)

Penticton’s elected leaders have issued a joint statement condemning hate after a newly-installed rainbow crosswalk on Power Street was met with “vile comments” on social media.

Acting Mayor Helena Konanz, Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel and School District No. 67 Chair James Palanio say Thursday, May 24, was a moment of pride for the city, following the installation of a Two-Spirit rainbow crosswalk from Queen’s Park Elementary School to the trade and convention centre.

But they also added that the comments against the student-led project online highlight the need to show support for all members of the community.

“For the rainbow crosswalk to be a true symbol there needs to be the condemnation of bullying and intolerance,” the statement reads. “The installation of this symbol is not the end, it is the beginning.

“As elected leaders, we stand for a community that is diverse, open and accepting. There’s no place for hate.

“And to the kids who requested the rainbow crosswalk, thank you for showing the way.”

The idea to display rainbow colours and the 2spirit symbol was presented to Penticton’s previous council in June 2022. It stemmed from a student-led initiative from Project Respect at Queen’s Park Elementary.

Traffic on Power Street was restricted from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday due to the crosswalk’s installation.

The Penticton Western News also closed comments on an earlier post sharing the installation of the crosswalk due to the number of hate filled comments.

“Today was a moment of pride in Penticton, with the installation of a Two-Spirit rainbow crosswalk that honours the diversity of the community,” the statement reads.

“The initiative for this symbol of hope came from students at Queen’s Park Elementary who showed leadership in requesting a tangible sign of support for diverse and inclusive communities. It’s a reminder that children start from a place of acceptance. And that’s a lesson for all of us.”

READ MORE: Students help bring rainbow crosswalk to Penticton during Pride Month