FERGUS – Two of four Pride banners hung in downtown Fergus for Pride month have been vandalized.
“I didn’t see the damage myself but the description I was given was that they were slashed,” said Miranda Holmes, who headed the initiative for the BIA.
“The township was quick to take them down. We’re doing a rush order to get more flags.”
Holmes recalled previous years when the BIA supported Pride month with colourful ribbons and little flags placed in outdoor planters and window boxes.
“The ribbons were cut down, a teen helper was verbally assaulted when he was putting them up, and all the little flags were stolen,” she said.
“We realized then you can’t leave these things at arm’s reach. So, we thought they’d be safe on a light post, but apparently not.”
Holmes said she feels for members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, who must feel terrified and under attack.
“It’s scary to see the political hatred in the States seeping into Canada,” she said.
“I’m putting a call out to allies. Now is the time to speak up and show your support.
“It’s easy to do when things are safe; hard to do when there is this kind of hatred.
“But it’s so important to show support in these times.”
In a statement from Centre Wellington Township, Mayor Shawn Watters expressed his “disappointment and sadness” that the banners were vandalized.
“Council is committed to building an inclusive community, and recently appointed community members to the township’s first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion advisory committee,” Watters said.
“Hate has no home here in Centre Wellington, and this will not stop our unwavering support for the 2SLGBTQI+ community.
“Everyone has the right to feel safe and welcomed in Centre Wellington.”
Fergus BIA president Tala Jenkins called the flag vandalism “appalling” and said it “will not be tolerated in our community.”
“The damaged Pride flags will be replaced as soon as possible, and they will be hung with pride,” she stated.
“We support everyone in our community and will continue to show our solidarity.”
Holmes said she believes the majority of people in Centre Wellington are inclusive and this act of vandalism is not reflective of the general population.
“It only takes one or two people to act out their intolerance. They paint a bad picture of the whole community,” she said.
“People ask why do we need a Pride month? This is why. Symbols do matter.
“This was a minor thing in terms of crimes, but it makes a big impact.”
The banners cost about $150 each and they will be replaced by the Fergus BIA, which is funded through tax dollars.
The OPP urges anyone with information about the vandalism to call 1-888-310-1122.