Chris Couper: Arnprior
Pride has planted some amazing initiatives in Arnprior and I am happy to support them as they grow and blossom! As a council, I believe we have an obligation to listen to, to respect, and to recognize the diversity that makes Arnprior a great place to be.
I support the expansion, and revisitation of, Pride initiatives with the full appreciation that representation evolves as our understanding does. The rainbow flag itself is the symbol of a progressive ethos and evolves, and will evolve, as we do and the community does. Daniel Quasar’s creation of the “Pride Progress” flag is one such example, and the UK’s inclusion of intersex in a further design is another. I am willing to listen and learn.
To expand our scope of responsibility past symbolism, making events, fundraisers, and initiatives visible helps to embrace, and foster, an authentic sense of community and of belonging. It shouts “We see you! You are welcome here and you are not alone!”
As an educator, one of my greatest strengths is to approach situations and causes with empathy, compassion, and the willingness to listen. I am steadfast in my resolve to lift up others before myself and I believe this is a key quality in an ally. I support Pride because I support human rights and not for my own personal gain.
I am one voice among many: as a collaborative and progressive member of our Council, I will work to be an example for my colleagues by being open to dialogue and progress. I can specifically strengthen my working relationship with the Pride community by committing to being educated in the field of diversity and inclusion. I’m studying online right now at the University of Guelph-Humber and my course load includes a strong focus on progressive social education.
Being an ally means being mindful of the need for continuous improvement and understanding. It seems like a small thing, but even starting by learning, and using, proper terminology goes a long way and is a step that anyone can take. For my part, I am willing to make mistakes, to apologize and to learn from them, in the pursuit of being a greater ally.
I fully understand that some people are not ready to begin the journey of growth and acceptance but ensuring LGBTQ2S+ are safe and included in our community is an absolute priority that transcends this. Did you know, for example, that there are no current bylaws to address hateful graffiti? It took over 4 months for a large racial slur to be removed from the post of a very prominent sign on Daniel Street. This sign itself had the Town’s logo and directions to prominent locations in Town! What message does it send when we are lethargic at removing outright hateful messaging. In this case, the sign was on County property and we had no ability to demand its immediate removal.
We cannot turn a blind eye to hate or be slow/unwilling to challenge it. I firmly believe that if individuals in position of privilege are hesitant to take swift and decisive action, we have failed those who are vulnerable.
Specifically, to the question: we must ensure at the Town level that the services and amenities we offer in Arnprior are sensitive, and responsive, to those who co-exist as a part of our community. It means asking questions and being committed to finding out answers. Do we have private change rooms at the Nick Smith Centre? Have we developed our recreation programming with input from the Pride community? Do we partner effectively to amplify Pride messaging? Are we seeking social and financial support from the County to make the needs of LGBTQ2S+ residents and visitors a priority? Do LGBTQ2S+ seniors, who grew up in a much different social environment than ours, feel safe and welcomed in expressing who they are today? These are all the types of questions I’d like to seek answers to.
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