Flag shows ‘re­spect’

About 60 at­tend cer­e­mony at city hall kick­ing off Trans­gen­der Aware­ness Week

The Expositor (Brantford) - - FRONT PAGE - VIN­CENT BALL EXPOSITOR STAFF

Nearly 60 peo­ple gath­ered at city hall Mon­day af­ter­noon to raise a flag mark­ing Trans­gen­der Aware­ness Week. It was a first for the city. “This event sym­bol­izes for us re­spect and ac­cep­tance,” said Finn Cole, of the Brant­ford Ad­vo­cacy Trans­gen­der Al­liance. “It’s great to see so many peo­ple here.

“And, with the flag wav­ing at city hall this week, peo­ple will see it when they go by and that will help with our ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness. That’s im­por­tant be­cause there are still peo­ple who face ob­sta­cles in terms of hous­ing and em­ploy­ment be­cause of who they are.”

Cole and Erica James, also of the al­liance, helped or­ga­nize the flag-rais­ing cer­e­mony. They were joined by Pi­lar Ver­garaKing, of the Lau­rier Brant­ford Queer Sphere, a com­mit­tee of the univer­sity’s di­ver­sity and eq­uity of­fice, which pro­motes aware­ness, ac­cep­tance and so­cial ad­vo­cacy for queer mem­bers on cam­pus.

Also in at­ten­dance were Brant MPP Dave Le­vac, Mayor Chris Friel, sev­eral city coun­cil­lors, in­clud­ing Richard Carpenter, John Ut­ley and Rick Weaver, and Brant­ford Po­lice Chief Geoff Nel­son.

Weaver said he is proud to have helped bring the procla­ma­tion for trans­gen­der week to city coun­cil for ap­proval.

Le­vac noted that Mon­day’s cer­e­mony will be the only time he at­tends the event in his ca­pac­ity as MPP be­cause he will be re­tir­ing from pol­i­tics prior to the next year’s provin­cial elec­tion. But he vowed to at­tend next year’s event and to stand up for mem­bers of the trans­gen­der com­mu­nity.

Friel said that the flag-rais­ing cer­e­mony is an im­por­tant mo­ment for the city. It wasn’t that long ago when Brant­ford first raised the Pride flag at city hall.

The city has made im­prove­ments with re­spect to ac­cep­tance and re­spect for all in the last two to three years, the mayor said.

“It may not seem like that to those of you who are in the thick of it ev­ery day but those of us who are out­side of it have seen the progress.”

Friel told those in the crowd that mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers stand shoul­der to shoul­der with them,

There are a few events planned this week.

On Wed­nes­day at 6 p.m, there will be a screen­ing of the film, Trans­gen­der Life in Slove­nia, in Room 107 of the Odeon build­ing on Mar­ket Street. The screen­ing will be fol­lowed by a ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion.

On Satur­day at 1 p.m., Brant­ford Pride will screen the film, Three Gen­er­a­tions, in the com­mu­nity room of the Brant­ford Pub­lic Li­brary’s main branch on Col­borne Street. The film tells the story of three gen­er­a­tions of a fam­ily liv­ing un­der one roof in New York and go­ing through the process of help­ing a teenager through tran­si­tion.

And, on Mon­day from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., the Trans­gen­der Day of Re­mem­brance will be marked at The Bent King cafe and lounge at 156 Mar­ket St. The day is held an­nu­ally to re­mem­ber those who have been mur­dered as a re­sult of trans­pho­bia and to bring at­ten­tion to the con­tin­ued vi­o­lence en­dured by the trans­gen­der com­mu­nity. Among the speak­ers at the event will be Alex Fel­sky, a Grand Erie District School Board trustee and the NDP can­di­date in next year’s provin­cial elec­tion,

The Lau­rier Brant­ford Queer Sphere mem­bers will lead a can­dle­light vigil. V ball@ post me­dia. com twit­ter.com/EXPVBall

BRIAN THOMP­SON/THE EXPOSITOR

Among those help­ing raise the trans­gen­der flag at city hall on Mon­day are: Coun. Richard Carpenter (left), Erica James, co-chair of the Brant­ford Ad­vo­cacy Trans­gen­der Al­liance; Mayor Chris Friel; Pi­lar Ver­gara-King, co-or­di­na­tor of Queer Sphere at Lau­rier Brant­ford; Coun. Rick Weaver; Brant MPP Dave Le­vac and Finn Cole, found­ing mem­ber of the al­liance.

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