• James Armstrong

Second annual Pride flag raising in Vaudreuil-Soulanges


PHOTO COURTESY PETER SCHIEFKE’S OFFICE

Liberal MP Peter Schiefke (left) assisted by Très-Saint-Rédempteur Mayor Julie Lemieux (right) and Pincourt Mayor Yvan Cardinal raised a Pride flag August 19 to symbolize how far the Vaudreuil-Soulanges community has come in accepting diversity.

Member of Parliament Peter Schiefke raised the six-colour Pride flag for the second year in a row in the federal riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges on Sunday, August 19 in a festive atmosphere that included cake and an artistic rainbow-themed communal artwork.

“We are here this morning to demonstrate our support for and solidarity with the LGBTQ2 community,” said Schiefke in his opening remarks in front of his riding office in Vaudreuil-Dorion. He said raising the Pride flag celebrates the fact that everyone merits protection under the law regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“We must remember that things haven’t always been this way and, no matter the progress we make, never take it for granted,” he said.

Schiefke welcomed Pincourt Mayor Yvan Cardinal and the Mayor of Très-Saint-Rédempteur Julie Lemieux to the event. Schiefke noted Lemieux is the first transgendered person to become the mayor of a town in Canada.

Networking to protect

“Here in Canada and around the globe, LGBTQ2 persons still face persecution,” said Schiefke. He described how the federal government has worked with international partners to create and build better policies and programs to ensure the safety and wellbeing of LGBTQ2 people. The result, according to Schiefke, is that Canada will be the new co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition (ERC), an intergovernmental network of elected LGBTQ2 members of governments from around the world.

“It is dedicated to working with non-governmental organizations and other allies seeking to protect LGBTQ2 refugees,” he said.

Being transgender and a mayor

“It is going very well in my small town,” responded Lemieux with a smile when asked what the reaction was to electing a transgender mayor. She described the situation as a process that began in 2013 when she was elected by acclamation as a town councillor.

“It happened naturally. My mandate as a councillor was recreation. People got to know me as ‘Julie’ not ‘Julie the transgender person,” said Lemieux. When asked if her town was ready to officially raise the Pride flag, Lemieux replied she had been occupied with her role as one of the Grand Marshals for the 2018 Montreal Pride parade.

Local community development

Saint-Lazare resident Vivianne LaRiviere and Hudson Councillor Chloe Hutchinson are organizing an LGBTQ2 support group for the region.

“We are going to be looking at three items,” said LaRiviere. “The first aspect is social,” she said. “Why are we going downtown today?” she asked referring to the Montreal Pride Parade that afternoon. “Why do we not invite Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto to come here and support small towns and villages that need a voice, as well?” she said. “We need help to grow our movement. We need social events and activities in our own hometowns.” The second point is education to maintain LGBTQ2 history, assess where the community is currently and plan for the future. A political agenda would be the third issue for the group to address, according to LaRiviere.

A series of meetings are planned beginning Sunday, September 30 at the Stephen F. Shaar Community Centre, 394 Main Road, Hudson from 7 to 9 p.m.

Schiefke added that he welcomes any ideas or initiatives from citizens regarding LGBTQ2 activities in the community.

“Someone suggested there could be a float in next year’s Mozaïk parade in Vaudreuil-Dorion,” he said to a round of applause.

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