GANDER, NL – Mayor Percy Farwell looks out his office window at the rainbow coloured crosswalk leading to the town hall.
To him, the simple gesture of a few painted lines sends a powerful message of acceptance and inclusion in Gander.
While Springdale, another central Newfoundland community, continues to debate whether or not it will place a pride crosswalk on its streets, Gander’s has been in place since Oct. 2016.
It was an initiative taken on by the Keyin College Child and Youth Care class, in partnership with the town, as a way to represent inclusiveness within the community and to also raise awareness about LGBTQ issues.
The class is currently on break, but campus coordinator Elsie Babstock said, “Within the program the acceptance of people is taught. Some students felt very strongly about (Gander having a pride crosswalk) and they moved forward with the idea, which received a lot of support from council.”
Babstock added the students continue to play a role in maintaining the crosswalk to this day, and expects the students will again add the rainbow colours when classes resume.
Which is something Mayor Farwell is looking forward to.
“We are an inclusive and progressive community,” Farwell said. “(The crosswalk) is a token of that.”
While he wasn’t the mayor when it was painted, Farwell hasn’t heard of any objections to the crosswalk since taking office some eight months ago.
But he isn’t naive enough to think its supported 100 per cent.
“I’m sure there are people who, based on their own values, aren’t keen on it, but are respectful enough to not speak out about it too much publicly,” he said. “But, realistically, it’s not imposing anything on anybody, it’s a just a way of showing our support.
“Some people deal daily with issues of gender identity and sexual orientation, and this is a sign of support that the community at large accepts them. That’s a good thing.
“If you can do something that helps some and harms none, why not do it?”