Lower Kootenay Band and Yaqan Nukiy School staff reveal new rainbow crosswalk. (Photo credit Jenneil Peters)

Lower Kootenay Band shows pride with rainbow crosswalk

Six volunteers painted a rainbow crosswalk along a popular Lower Kootenay Band running trail Wednesday morning to show support for the LGBTQ+ community.

“The Lower Kootenay Band is an inclusive community since time immemorial,” said Chief Jason Louie. “We have always had two-spirited people as part of our nation, we do not exclude, we consider the two-spirited to be highly spiritual and close to the creator.”

Louie felt it was important to show support for the LGBTQ+ community after reading negative comments online concerning a rainbow crosswalk fundraiser for the Town of Creston.

“Some time ago, there was an initiative from the LGBTQ+ group OutSpoken for a rainbow crosswalk in the Town of Creston,” said Louie. “I was appalled after reading some of the comments on social media regarding the initiative. A lot of the comments were just beyond belief; there was mention of religion. ‘If you use this crosswalk, you’re going to go to hell, if you support it, you’re going to go to hell.’ It was outright disrespectful.”

After reading the comments, Louie posted his concerns about the online reactions to the initiative on his personal social media account, and Yaqan Nukiy School staff member Renee Phypers suggested that the Lower Kootenay Band have a rainbow crosswalk to show support for the LGBTQ+ community.

“I thought the suggestion of a rainbow crosswalk was a good idea,” said Louie. It doesn’t take much effort to show true leadership,” said Louie. In a matter of maybe two to three hours, it was done. It’s no different from any other crosswalk, is just different colours. However, it’s what it symbolizes.”

Students from Yaqan Nukiy School will utilize the rainbow crosswalk throughout the school year as part of their outdoor activities.

“The crosswalk will begin the necessary conversation we need to have about the LGBTQ+ community,” said Louie. “We need to educate; we need to teach, we are hoping the crosswalk will help with the disrespect that’s happening to the LGBTQ+ community.”

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