IROQUOIS – A year after it was approved by South Dundas council, the new Rainbow Pride Crosswalk in Iroquois was officially unveiled at a ceremony in front of Seaway District High School June 9.
Officials from the Upper Canada District School Board, Municipality of South Dundas, Tomlinson Group, along with provincial and federal elected representatives were on hand for commemoration.
“We are really thrilled to have a school where we are inclusive of everyone,” said Seaway principal Trent Carter-Edwards. “We fully believe here at Seaway DHS that school should be a safe, inclusive, accepting environment where people can be who they are.”
Carter-Edwards thanked the municipality for supporting the crosswalk initiative and Tomlinson Group, which paid for the crosswalk painting. He also credited Grade 12 student Eshal Ali, who led the initiative to have the crosswalk painted.
South Dundas mayor Jason Broad said he was proud to have the crosswalk symbol painted. “We want to foster and fully be inclusive to the learning environment where students can bring their full selves to school every day. Where they can feel safe and be heard.”
Visibly emotional, Broad continued, “There is no place for any discrimination or hate in South Dundas. I ask our residents to support this sidewalk and show a sense of belonging to all residents as we continue make strides in building a great community in South Dundas.”
Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MP Eric Duncan spoke of how much has changed in the six years since he came out publicly as a gay man when he was mayor of North Dundas.
“I think of where I was in high school, coming to terms (not in a bad way) of understanding who I was and what that would mean, and how I could live my life,” Duncan said. “I think having these conversations, the crosswalk, and just saying there is a place for everyone to belong.”
As Duncan concluded his comments, a passing youth yelled an explicative at the crowd on the crosswalk which MPP Nolan Quinn noted in his comments.
“Unfortunately I think there is still a bit of intolerance,” he said. “We’ve made a lot of progress and there is still a lot more to be made. Ultimately there’s lots of intolerance in the world.”
Quinn pointed out that some school boards in Ontario will not fly the Pride flag.
“There’s always more room for growth in education, so the fact that we have this in front of a school where we can educate and let them understand the challenges of the community, I think is extremely important.”
The MPP noted that there had already been some vandalism on the crosswalk in the week since it had been painted.
We’re happy to have the opportunity to give back to the community where we work,” said Rob Pierce with Tomlinson Group. “In Pride Month, it is very fitting to be down here at the crosswalk. We’re happy to be part of this.”
Ali, who presented the original plan for the crosswalk to council in June 2022 said she was happy to see this completed before she graduates from Seaway later this month.