Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 2, 2016
“If you want to be a super right-wing conservative Christian, then go and do that, but don’t spread the hate. Just accept that everyone is going to do their thing and accept that if people want to host a big parade with a bunch of rainbows, then they are going to do that.”
—Brandon University Students’ Union president Nick Brown
“Super right-wing conservative Christian” may have not have been the best lead for his approach as there are some fairly right-wing conservatives in this province who still seem to be decent people,but you have to commend Brown’s plan to venture to Steinbach’s Pride celebrations on July 9 with his fellow BUSU membership.
Much has been shared in the last few weeks over the impending Pride celebrations in the community of Steinbach. Plenty have also weighed in regarding their views on this particular subject —?views that included a couple of fairly vitriolic responses I received on my column last week supporting their efforts to move forward with the festivities.
They appear to be the minority though as many more throughout Manitoba are clearly listening, and engaging.
The Steinbach RCMP are one such example. The force’s swift 180 and support of the Pride festivities, including having their new director Scott Kolody marching alongside the group as they take to the streets, was commendable.This is a change from weeks previous where they seemed to distance themselves from the march, asking those involved to walk on the sidewalks as they had refused to close the streets, citing safety concerns.
All that has changed now though as it looks like the event will proceed and be a march in the street as opposed to being confined to sidewalks and parking lots. This shows progress and is something others in Manitoba’s third largest city should consider.
The very fact that a group of students from our community is willing to travel to Steinbach’s parade shows well for the level of support and inclusion the parade represents. It is also frankly too bad Steinbach’s local politicians won’t follow suit.
The latest politician to step up and dance around the question was Progressive Conservative MLA and Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen. The minister told the Winnipeg Free Press he would be unable to attend due to a “previous personal commitment” noting only that he felt the event would be safe for participants. One has to wonder in this day and age why Goertzen felt compelled only to comment on the overall safety of the event rather than commenting on whether he supports members of his own constituency. Clearly the MLA anticipated there may be issues and has, frankly chose to silence the subject in his carefully scripted comments.
It is unfortunate that none of the prominent elected officials in the region chose to appear as they may have actually learned a level of tolerance and support for others in
their community through engagement. The organizers did not ask the politicians to dress up or wave banners, they merely sought some level of acceptance for their cause.
There is a lesson to be learned through all of this. The very fact that the discussion has migrated to talk of inclusion shows as a society we are evolving. We are drifting away from some of the antiquated viewpoints of the past which is a good thing. As a society we are becoming more accepting, and by working on the small things like allowing the Pride event to take place in the “Bible Belt” of Manitoba shows that we may one day be able to tackle other issues with a more open mind.
There is hope for change and I for one wish Steinbach the best with their parade and festivities. Raise your banner high and welcome those from our community with open arms.
On another note, I wanted to take the opportunity this week to share some exciting news with Brandon Sun readers. I have the good fortune to spend the next couple of weeks touring the U.K. and Europe as part of a film crew documenting the local history of the 12th Manitoba Dragoons.
While there I look forward to taking some time to speak with locals about their thoughts on the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. For the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing a foreigner’s viewpoint in the pages of the Brandon Sun on how Europeans, and those within the U.K. are reacting to this highly controversial decision. I hope you enjoy it. Until then “Vaarwel!”