Earlier this year, it was requested that a few crosswalks in the small town of Chilliwack, BC would be painted rainbow in honor of Pride. Sadly, the city council voted it down. According to HuffPost, Councilwoman Sue Knott stated, “When it comes to painting a rainbow on a crosswalk, or baby feet, crosses, anti immigration or anything else, it becomes a political statement…It also becomes a target for vandalism and a canvas for intolerance and hate. You cannot change attitudes by painting crosswalks.”
It seems that many people in the community did not agree with the City Council’s views. And all throughout the area, rainbow crosswalks began popping up. The first to paint a rainbow crosswalk in defiance was the Squiala First Nation. According to the Nation’s Chief, David Jimmie, “The city does not have jurisdiction over our lands so we are free to paint them to demonstrate our support for being an inclusive community.” The First Nation owns a shopping center in town, thus constituting it as tribal land. So, with that loophole, the Squiala people led the charge in creating the first rainbow crosswalk.
Following their lead, places all around the community began painting crosswalks on private property, such as school campuses, business parking lots, and even resident’s driveways. Because these are all on private lands, the City Council has no jurisdiction.
— U of Fraser Valley (@goUFV) October 2, 2019
To date, 11 crosswalks have been painted all across the area, with at least five more in the works. The community has even launched a petition to be recognized with a World Record for being the town with the most rainbow crosswalks.
The Chilliwack City Council said no to a rainbow crosswalk to show support for the #LGBTQ community.
So a group of community members, organizations and local First Nations painted SIXTEEN throughout the city.
Sign the petition to get them recognized: https://t.co/SYzVRfT29C
— Leadnow (@leadnowca) November 15, 2019
Other cities in Canada already have permanent rainbow crosswalks. Calgary just installed one this summer, while Vancouver has had one since 2013. We hope to see Chilliwack in record books soon!