Res­i­dent dis­heart­ened over Pride flag

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY MIL­LI­CENT MCKAY

It all started with a Face­book post.

Catherine Arse­nault was scrolling through the so­cial me­dia out­let and was shocked by the con­ver­sa­tions about the LGBTQ com­mu­nity that were fes­ter­ing in Summerside.

“I was so sur­prised that kind of hate ex­isted to­day. It’s some­thing I can’t help but shake my head at,” she said of the re­cent on­line spar be­tween Pride sup­port­ers and those op­posed on Face­book.

The con­tro­versy cen­tred around Skip’s Fish ‘n’ Chips owner Paul MacGregor’s com­ments on an on­line CBC ar­ti­cle about Pride cel­e­bra­tions in P.E.I. that some in­ter­preted to be ho­mo­pho­bic. Sev­eral peo­ple took to the Skip’s Fish ‘n’ Chips Face­book busi­ness page to ex­press their dis­plea­sure with MacGregor, while oth­ers of­fered com­ments of sup­port.

MacGregor hap­pens to be Arse­nault’s next-door neigh­bour.

To show her sup­port for Pride, she hung mul­ti­ple rain­bow flags around her gar­den and on her front porch.

“It was never re­ally on my radar be­fore. I sup­port Pride, but now I want to do my part to sup­port it even more.”

One night, MacGregor asked her to make sure the flag didn’t cross onto his prop­erty.

“I said, ‘You’ll have to take that up with the wind,’ be­cause at that mo­ment the wind was blow­ing the fab­ric part into his airspace.”

A cou­ple of nights later, Arse­nault woke up to find her flag snapped.

Through a text mes­sage to the Jour­nal Pi­o­neer, MacGregor com­mented say­ing, “I asked Catherine to take it down be­cause it was en­croach­ing onto my prop­erty. She re­fused so I pulled it down.”

Af­ter she saw that it was bro­ken, Arse­nault called the po­lice.

“(Paul) ad­mit­ted to them that he broke it. But I was told that be­cause it was tech­ni­cally in his airspace noth­ing could be done about it,” said Arse­nault. Cpl. Jen­nifer Driscoll of Summerside Po­lice Ser­vices said there is no cur­rent in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­volv­ing dam­age to prop­erty of a Pride flag.

“Usu­ally when it comes down to a flag or tree branch, for ex­am­ple, it can be re­solved civilly and we can help with that. But ev­ery case is dif­fer­ent.”

Since the in­ci­dent, Arse­nault has left the bro­ken flag­pole where it was hung.

“It’s a re­minder. It’s weird to me that there is so much hate out there.

“It’s so much more than a bro­ken Dol­lar Store flag. It’s a sym­bol of in­clu­siv­ity. Live and let live. It’s a sym­bol of a com­mu­nity that has been marginal­ized.”

How­ever, Arse­nault is thank­ful for re­cent events.

“Even though there are firm lines in the sand, it’s opened up the con­ver­sa­tion. I’ve had the op­por­tu­nity to talk to my son and my grand­kids, even my mom, who is a Chris­tian.”

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Catherine Arse­nault, a Summerside res­i­dent, learned that her neigh­bour broke her pride flag last week. Since the in­ci­dent, she has de­cided to leave the bro­ken pole where it was dis­played as a sym­bol of a com­mu­nity that has been marginal­ized by hate speech.

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