Canada has some of the most advanced LGBT rights in the world. Since 1969, same-sex sexual activity has been legal. Since 1995, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation has been prohibited according to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Since 2003, same-sex marriage has been legal in Ontario. And in 2005, Canada became the first county outside of Europe to legalize same-sex marriage across our entire nation.

Even with these freedoms, rights and protections, some members of the 2SLGBTQ+ (Two-Spirited, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and +) community do not feel welcome, safe or accepted. Because of this, it is important to empower these members of our community and to be allies that support equal rights, gender equality and 2SLGBTQ+ social movements.

I would like to thank the Pride in Mississippi Mills team for organizing the first Pride events to be held in our community and for encouraging Council to get involved. As Mayor, I proudly proclaimed “June is Pride Month in Mississippi Mills” and we have displayed the rainbow pride flag for the first time as a Municipality. I encourage our residents to reflect on the ongoing struggle for equality members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community face and to celebrate their contributions that enhance our Municipality.

Sadly, the first Pride celebrations in Mississippi Mills have been tarnished by a senseless act earlier this week. The rainbow flag which was on display at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum was desecrated: stolen, shredded and discarded. Whether the individual(s) responsible did this as a prank, a thrill or as an act of bigotry, the hurt it caused to members of our community touches us all.

Today, I stood in solidarity with members of the Pride in Mississippi Mills team and in solidarity with the 2SLGBQT+ community. We celebrated the fact that a hurtful act has created an immediate response of love, support and action by many. In less than 5 hours, friends, neighbours and allies raised $1000 to replace the flag at the Museum and to purchase flags to be displayed by businesses throughout Mississippi Mills. The rainbow flag, a symbol of hope and acceptance, will now fly throughout our community.

🌈 Love is too beautiful to be hidden in the closet. Let your love come out.

🌈The world needs love more now than it has ever needed before.