Resident disheartened over Pride flag
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.”
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.