Two Fort Simpson crosswalks have been repainted in the colours of the rainbow to show support for the community’s LGBTQ2S+ population.
The crosswalks, located by the local schools and village office, have so far received a positive reaction, Fort Simpson resident Cindy Browning said.
Browning initially raised the idea with Mayor Sean Whelly, following the creation of similar crosswalks in NWT communities like Yellowknife and Fort Smith.
“It gets people talking,” she said. “Maybe it will get rid of some assumptions. It’s a way to be supportive and to be an ally to our LGBTQ+ community.”
A crosswalk in front of Fort Simpson’s schools in its new rainbow colour scheme. Photo: Sean Whelly
Whelly said the crosswalks were important to drive home the idea that people should not be isolated for their identity, but rather supported and accepted for who they are.
“The school often emphasizes that students need to be kind and not to bully. Both messages go along with the pride-coloured crosswalk, because it stands for treating everyone the same and not to pick on differences,” he said.
Yellowknife and Fort Smith have each introduced rainbow crosswalks in the past five years.
Whelly hopes Fort Simpson will adopt rainbow crosswalks for years to come. The village ordered plenty of paint to ensure the colour scheme can be reapplied once it fades, he said.
Browning said the crosswalks are a first step, urging residents to call out individuals who exhibit offensive behaviour and language.
“Sometimes I think people just don’t know, and they go along with what they’ve heard all the time,” she said.
“It’s important to support it in order to be respectful and to learn about it, and just ask more. Hopefully it promotes a respectful dialogue.”