Sandra Weames, education coordinator for the North Island Pride Society, was one of the guest speakers at Carihi’s Pride Flag Raising Event on Thursday. The event was held on the front steps of the school to mark the 50th anniversary of Canada’s decriminalization of homosexuality. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

VIDEO: Campbell River highschool event marks Canadian human rights milestone

50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality

A small crowd of students and supporters gathered on the front steps of Carihi Secondary School Thursday to raise the Pride Flag in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Canada’s decriminalization of homosexuality.

“Thank you for coming and supporting Standing by Our Colours. The (Carihi) LGBT2+ Group is pleased to be part of the 50 Flags in 50 Communities to celebrate 50 years of decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada,” student Emily Henderson told the gathering. “It’s really great because, like, there are so many kids, even in Canada, who are scared to death of being who they are and coming out to support stuff like this is incredibly important.”

Carihi’s Barb Preston, one of the sponsors of the LGBT2+ Group, told the crowd that “At Carihi, we value diversity.”

Carihi’s event was coinciding with similar events across the country and it comes at the same time as a character in a children’s television show was revealed to be gay this week, Preston said. The children’s show Arthur launched its new season this month with an episode in which Arthur’s teacher, Mr. Ratburn, marries a man named Patrick.

Teachers can be mentors and this television show can help with understanding in the future when they show support for everyone in our community, Preston said.

A co-sponsor of the Carihi event was the North Island Pride Society and Sandra Weames, the society’s education coordinator, addressed the crowd as well.

“I am so proud of Campbell River and I am so proud and honoured to be here at Carihi today,” Weames said. “The amazing work that they do at this school is incredible.”

This year marks 50 years since decriminalization of homosexuality, Weames said, but it is actually 50 years since “partial decriminalization” because “there is still work to be done.”

“So, this year marks the 50th anniversary of passing of Bill C-150 of which Trudeau – and not Justin Trudeau, his father Pierre Trudeau – so famously said ‘There is no place for the state in the bedrooms of our nation.’”

So, while Canadians celebrate the 50th anniversary, there is still lots of work to do because around the world, LGBT2+ people are being criminalized, put in jail or even killed, Weames said.

“But today in Canada, we are celebrating and we’re letting the world know it’s okay to be who you are,” Weames said.

Weames concluded by thanking the students for being there because she could think of no better place to mark the event than at Carihi where the students are showing leadership on this issue and will be the leaders of the future.

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