Sylvan Lake has proclaimed Aug. 9—15 as its very first Pride Week.
The proclamation was brought forward to the Town by the Sylvan Lake IMPACT Coalition and was proclaimed on July 27 by Mayor Sean McIntyre.
The IMPACT (Individuals Making Positive Action and Change Today) Coalition is made up of Grade 7-12 students in the community. The group was selected after the Youth Leadership Summit in November and work to serve as a voice of youth in the community,
Krista Carlson, FCSS Youth Services supervisor, says after the summit the group discussed various topics they wanted to see addressed in the community and having safe spaces for the LGBTQ2S+ community was important to them.
“We started working on some initiatives and did some planning and then COVID happened,” said Carlson in a phone interview, adding Pride Month came and the group still thought it was important to do something within the community.
She told the coalition Pride Week is actually in August and explained the Central Alberta Pride Society has the week proclaimed in Red Deer, so the coalition worked to put together the proclamation.
“It’s really exciting for them because their whole focus is that they just wanted to make an impact, they really wanted to make a difference so although it may seem like just some words on a piece of paper it is important,” Carlson said.
“It makes it visible to the community that this is something that we want to address and we want to create those safe places and we want a community where everybody feels a sense of belonging, where everybody is included and it doesn’t matter their sexual preferences or how they identify as gender, really what matters is that they just are people and we accept them for who they are.”
Due to COVID-19 there won’t be any large-scale events, but people will be able to join the celebrations virtually.
Carlson says Sylvan Lake FCSS will be sharing the Central Alberta Pride Society’s virtual events on Facebook as well as encouraging the community to join in on tie dye for Pride.
Town staff will be making tie dye shirts and posting pictures, and others in the community are asked to do the same.
The lighthouse will also be lit in rainbow colours for the week and businesses are encouraged to put a rainbow in their window to help celebrate.
FCSS and the Town’s Facebook will also be blanketed with stats and stories surrounding the LGBTQ2S+ community.
Sylvan Lake Municipal Library’s Prism Club will also be hosting events to celebrate week with story times that are all about Pride and a virtual discussion about representation in fiction.
“There are so many kids in Sylvan Lake that fall under that wide spectrum of LGBTQ+ so I think it means a lot to them to have that in their community,” said Corrie Brown, programmer at the library, of the proclamation.
She says the library has seen firsthand the impact the rainbow sidewalk has had on adults and youth with people reaching out to let them know it has made them feel accepted and safe.
“It’s nice to see the community moving forward in that way,” Brown said. “Small towns tend to get a stigma of small thinking, but we know that doesn’t have to be.”