Display of Pride colours ‘symbol of inclusion’ (VIDEO & GALLERY)

Flag raising ceremony at the Seaway Centre Parkette in Sarnia. May 31, 2019. (Photo by Colin Gowdy, BlackburnNews)

Rainbow coloured flags were raised along Sarnia’s waterfront Friday afternoon to mark the beginning of Pride Month in the community.

Treasurer of the Sarnia Pride and Transgender Association Lila Palychuk called it a historic day for the city.

“Sarnia has actually never flown the pride flag while a lot of other municipalities have already been doing it for years and in some cases even decades,” said Palychuk. “Basically it’s just a symbol of inclusion and welcome, and it lets the community know that our government supports them and that the entire community is behind them.”

A motion to recognize June as Pride month in Sarnia, to light up city hall in rainbow colours, and fly rainbow flags along the waterfront was adopted by council by a 6-2 vote.

Councillors Dave Boushy and Margaret Bird voted against the recommendation.

Palychuk said it’s unfortunate to see residents oppose the decision.

“They’re welcome to their own beliefs, but I’d hope to see a little more inclusion and reconsideration from them,” she said. “While voting in favour of the motion, councillor Terry Burrell said the ten delegates — who all campaigned to recognize Pride Month — need to realize that they’re “scaring a lot of people.”

Burrell pointed out that only one side of the argument [the LGBTQ community] felt safe enough to voice their position in council chambers.

Palychuk said it was never the group’s goal to silence the opposition.

“We don’t want to scare anybody at all, we just want to make sure that some marginalized folks in our community feel welcome,” said Palychuk. “I will say that after the council meeting that one of those folks, who I guess was too afraid to speak, did kind of chase me out of the room to corner me down, stand over me and talk down towards me. So they can’t be that scared, right?”

Hundreds or Sarnia-Lambton residents attended Friday’s flag raising ceremony at the Seaway Centre Parkette.