The wheel turns and ages come and pass - Denny Scott editorial
I’ve been very excited as of late because a television series bringing one of my favourite book series to life is well underway. The book series, The Wheel of Time, is a complicated one, so I won’t try to provide a synopsis (I don’t have enough room, for starters), but I will say the book relies heavily on the idea that the world is cyclical and things tend to repeat themselves.
I couldn’t help but find the irony in loving the series last week as I sat through North Huron Township Council’s meeting and heard them, for at least the second time, turn down a request to recognize pride activities.
Pride Month is meant to honour the struggles that the LGBTQQIP2SAA community has faced as well as celebrate LGBTQQIP2SAA individuals and their allies. And for those who are puzzled by that acronym, it means lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, pansexual, two-spirit (2S), androgynous and asexual.
In the past, previous sessions of council have turned down requests to fly the pride flag to mark Pride Month (June, for those wondering) and turned down a request for a rainbow crosswalk, once again, to honour and remember the LGBTQQIP2SAA community.
The crosswalk I get. It’s a lot of maintenance, however, what can it hurt to fly a flag and recognize the struggles of this community? Well, it would require North Huron Township Council changing its one-sentence flag policy as it applies to what flags are allowed to be flown.
In the past I’ve been frustrated by these decisions because I have LGBTQQIP2SAA friends and family who have put up with bigots, prejudice and frustration, but now, as a father, I continue to worry about those friends and family, but I’m also frustrated because ignoring these kinds of efforts suggest that it’s alright to continue to marginalize these groups and that’s a lesson my daughter won’t learn.
I was hoping, when I saw the request to fly the flag on the agenda, that our current group of council members would break the cycle and not repeat it, however, that effort proved too much for the current North Huron Council as, at Deputy-Reeve Trevor Seip’s suggestion, they leave the policy as is and follow it.
The current policy, as stated, has a single line regarding flying flags (and a plethora of rules about how and when a flag can be flown at half-mast): “1. No flags or banners other than the federal, provincial and municipal flags will be flown on Township Property.”
Apparently it was too much to change that one sentence to recognize the 13 per cent of Canadians who identify as LGBTQQIP2SAA (according to a report several years old).
I was plenty annoyed, not because anyone came up with some reason not to honour the request, but because they hid behind the policy like some kind of shield instead of taking an honest-to-goodness stand.
Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a legitimate reason, in 2021, to not recognize Pride, but I’d have more respect for our members of council if they at least tried.
Here, North Huron Council, I’ll solve the problem for you. Add the following nine words to the policy: “unless council deems the cause of a flag worthy.” Now if you don’t want to fly a specific flag honouring a specific group of people, you’ll need to explain why.
I guess part of what annoyed me was that council had, after two years of start-and-stop work, finally implemented a land acknowledgement policy honouring the First Nations stewards of the lands of the municipality. All of council save Councillors Chris Palmer and Paul Heffer voted to approve it. Throughout that discussion, reconciliation efforts were mentioned a number of times by the councillors who supported the motion, indicating they were in favour of the acknowledgement and wanted to do their part to try and recognize the struggles and suffering the First Nations people had gone through.
So on the one hand, council is recognizing and honouring that suffering while ignoring the suffering of another group. I’m not saying their struggles and suffering are equal or comparable. The only thing that links them is, whether they are First Nations people or LGBTQQIP2SAA individuals, they didn’t choose to be who they are, and yet they both have suffered and continue to suffer due to it.
So, to take a step or three back: council decided to honour and respect the First Nations people but, like the councils before them, refuse to acknowledge the LGBTQQIP2SAA community. I guess the question is why? Don’t tell me it’s because of a policy, which isn’t even a bylaw. Those are changed as often as I forget my pledge to not buy any more potato chips.
There must be some reason why the majority of North Huron Council would recognize and honour the First Nations people, but ignore the LGBTQQIP2SAA community. What do you think, readers?
I mean, I’m not going to say it’s because they’re prejudiced, because we have policies against printing statements like that, and who has the energy to change a policy, right? Even if it is for a good cause.