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Pride flag at Pincher Creek Library targeted for second year

Pride flag at Pincher Creek Library targeted for second year
The Pride flag at the Pincher Creek and District Municipal Library was lowered by unknown individuals last week, marking the second consecutive year the flag has been tampered with during Pride Month.
The Pride flag at the Pincher Creek and District Municipal Library was lowered by unknown individuals last week, marking the second consecutive year the flag has been tampered with during Pride Month.
IMAGE: Submitted by Samantha Bonwick
IMAGE: Submitted by Samantha Bonwick

Pride flag at Pincher Creek Library targeted for second year

By Somya Lohia
By Somya Lohia
Shootin’ the Breeze Reporter
Shootin’ the Breeze Shootin’ the Breeze Reporter
June 15, 2024
June 15, 2024

The Pride flag at the Pincher Creek and District Municipal Library was lowered by unknown miscreants last week. Library staff found the flag down upon arrival at 11:30 a.m. Saturday to open the library. This incident marks the second year in a row the flag has been tampered with during Pride Month.

Samantha Bonwick, outreach co-ordinator at the library, shared details about the incident. “The flag was still in place when I left at 2 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday, when I came in to work, the Pride flag was lowered, so it must have happened overnight,” she said. 

Bonwick took immediate action. “I just got a ladder, and I went and put it up again myself,” she said. 

Library staff crafted a social media post to inform the community members about the incident and encourage kindness within the community. Upon opening the library today, Saturday, June 8th we noticed that the Pride flag had been lowered. We would like to remind our community that the library is a safe and welcoming place for all people, no matter what your beliefs or feelings on any subjects.  But, hate speech and acts of hate will not be tolerated. Please let us all learn to show respect to EVERYONE and remember that we all have differences, and that is ok,” the library posted.

The incident was followed by an anonymous phone call where a person accused the library of promoting an inappropriate agenda.  “This Friday, we received a phone call expressing concern about our Pride display which showcases all the different Pride flags and explains what each one means,” Bonwick said.

“In her opinion, it was part of an agenda and we were trying to shove inappropriate things into children’s minds. So, she was really concerned about that.”

Bonwick, who handled the call, explained to the caller that the library’s Pride display was meant to educate and include all community members.

 

Also read | Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village seeks community support to preserve Pincher Creek’s firefighting heritage

 

“She said that she would probably not come back to the library because of it,” Bonwick said. “On this, I apologized and said that we would welcome her if she ever comes back.”

Although the library has not reported the incident to local authorities, Bonwick did inform the Pincher Creek recreation office as a precaution.

This incident echoes a similar event last year, when the flag was removed soon after it was raised in June. According to Adam Grose, manager of recreation services, the miscreants removed the flag and placed it in an irrigation box, only to be found in September.

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Earlier this year, the library experienced another act of vandalism when a small Pride emblem was taken off the door and thrown into a box placed for returning books.

“We found the emblem in the box and we put it back on the door,” Bonwick said.

Asked about the community’s reaction to the incident, Bonwick praised the support from members.

“When we posted about the incident on Saturday, we received a lot of support from the people,” she said.

However, this was not the case when the announcements about Pride events were posted.

“We organized two events for Pride month. Every time a post about our Pride events goes up, there are negative comments,” she said.

The flag was raised on Thursday to mark Pride Month, followed by a presentation of Queer 101. Another event was organized for June 11, where Mitchell Hall presented Pride in the Prairies.

Despite this, Bonwick said she remains optimistic, noting the constructive dialogue that has emerged.

“We have been very surprised that there are a lot of members of the community engaging in the positive conversation happening around the topic. It is not all one-sided,” she emphasized.

“It is really beautiful to see that not all of it is negative, that there is lots of healthy conversation as well,” she added.

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Undeterred by the recent happenings, the library remains steadfast in its mission of inclusivity.

“Libraries have a history of celebrating all sorts of things, and this is not going to stop us from going forward,” Bonwick said.

The library plans to continue its diverse celebrations, including upcoming events for National Indigenous Peoples Day, underscoring its role as a neutral ground where everyone is welcome.

As Pincher Creek and District Municipal Library moves forward, it hopes to foster an environment of respect and acceptance, reflecting the community’s diverse values and cultures.

The Pride flag at the Pincher Creek and District Municipal Library was lowered by unknown miscreants last week. Library staff found the flag down upon arrival at 11:30 a.m. Saturday to open the library. This incident marks the second year in a row the flag has been tampered with during Pride Month.

Samantha Bonwick, outreach co-ordinator at the library, shared details about the incident. “The flag was still in place when I left at 2 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday, when I came in to work, the Pride flag was lowered, so it must have happened overnight,” she said. 

Bonwick took immediate action. “I just got a ladder, and I went and put it up again myself,” she said. 

Library staff crafted a social media post to inform the community members about the incident and encourage kindness within the community. Upon opening the library today, Saturday, June 8th we noticed that the Pride flag had been lowered. We would like to remind our community that the library is a safe and welcoming place for all people, no matter what your beliefs or feelings on any subjects.  But, hate speech and acts of hate will not be tolerated. Please let us all learn to show respect to EVERYONE and remember that we all have differences, and that is ok,” the library posted.

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The incident was followed by an anonymous phone call where a person accused the library of promoting an inappropriate agenda.  “This Friday, we received a phone call expressing concern about our Pride display which showcases all the different Pride flags and explains what each one means,” Bonwick said.

“In her opinion, it was part of an agenda and we were trying to shove inappropriate things into children’s minds. So, she was really concerned about that.”

Bonwick, who handled the call, explained to the caller that the library’s Pride display was meant to educate and include all community members.

 

Also read | Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village seeks community support to preserve Pincher Creek’s firefighting heritage

 

“She said that she would probably not come back to the library because of it,” Bonwick said. “On this, I apologized and said that we would welcome her if she ever comes back.”

Although the library has not reported the incident to local authorities, Bonwick did inform the Pincher Creek recreation office as a precaution.

This incident echoes a similar event last year, when the flag was removed soon after it was raised in June. According to Adam Grose, manager of recreation services, the miscreants removed the flag and placed it in an irrigation box, only to be found in September.

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Earlier this year, the library experienced another act of vandalism when a small Pride emblem was taken off the door and thrown into a box placed for returning books.

“We found the emblem in the box and we put it back on the door,” Bonwick said.

Asked about the community’s reaction to the incident, Bonwick praised the support from members.

“When we posted about the incident on Saturday, we received a lot of support from the people,” she said.

However, this was not the case when the announcements about Pride events were posted.

“We organized two events for Pride month. Every time a post about our Pride events goes up, there are negative comments,” she said.

The flag was raised on Thursday to mark Pride Month, followed by a presentation of Queer 101. Another event was organized for June 11, where Mitchell Hall presented Pride in the Prairies.

Despite this, Bonwick said she remains optimistic, noting the constructive dialogue that has emerged.

“We have been very surprised that there are a lot of members of the community engaging in the positive conversation happening around the topic. It is not all one-sided,” she emphasized.

“It is really beautiful to see that not all of it is negative, that there is lots of healthy conversation as well,” she added.

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Undeterred by the recent happenings, the library remains steadfast in its mission of inclusivity.

“Libraries have a history of celebrating all sorts of things, and this is not going to stop us from going forward,” Bonwick said.

The library plans to continue its diverse celebrations, including upcoming events for National Indigenous Peoples Day, underscoring its role as a neutral ground where everyone is welcome.

As Pincher Creek and District Municipal Library moves forward, it hopes to foster an environment of respect and acceptance, reflecting the community’s diverse values and cultures.

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