Russell Township held a Pride flag raising ceremony on August 20, inviting members of the public to witness the raising and to hear from a collection of speakers at the event. Event organizer Richard Thain began the ceremony with some opening remarks.
“We are here today to remember historical wrongs and tragedies for Canadians who self-identify as 2SLGBTQ+, but more importantly, also to celebrate the continued advancement of human rights,” said Thain. “We are all here to celebrate advances in human rights, specifically the human rights of our friends and neighbours who self-identify as 2SLGBTQ+.”
Thain then welcomed his daughter Geneviève to the podium to share some of her experiences as the head of the LGBTQ+ Committee at her school.
“We all know someone in the queer community,” Genviéve said. “This community represents a significant portion of the population here and around the world. However, 67 countries still criminalize same-sex relationships, and same-sex relationships are punishable by death in 11 countries and 50 countries criminalize trans-identity under various laws.”
“Fortunately, here in Canada we don’t have such laws,” she said. “However, according to Statistics Canada, in 2018, sexual minority Canadians were twice as likely to report experiencing inappropriate behaviour in public, online or at work.”
Thain stepped back in to say, “The rights that we wish to see around the world, we must first establish and celebrate here at home.”
Other planned speakers included MP Francis Drouin, Mayor Pierre Leroux, student advocate Hayden Shattler, and Kin Club of Russell President Patrick Hunter. Drouin had to cancel at the last minute and so wasn’t present.
After all the speakers had finished their remarks, the ceremony was closed out with a performance of La Différence by Lara Fabian, performed by local musician Lise Dazé and accompanied by Brian St-Pierre on keyboard.