Thank you to our Provost, Lesley Brown and to all the folks at MRU including our wonderful communications and marketing team who scrambled in short time to make this event happen. I’m glad the weather decided to hold off on raining for us this morning.
It’s an honour to have been invited to take part in the flag raising today. Thanks to your VP Student Life, Shayla Breen, for passing along my name. Pride has become a celebration of achievements by and for the LGBTQ2+ communities but its roots are in protest. I’m grateful for an institution that recognizes the importance of creating a welcoming space for its queer and trans communities, but make no mistake, there are those in the world today who are working hard to undo the collective strides we have made and who aim to block us in going further. They believe human rights are a zero sum game and that for us to achieve recognition and protection detracts from their rights and freedoms. I strongly believe this to be untrue, but fear and uncertainty are strong motivating forces and not easily countered.
It is as important today as ever to ensure that we do not become complacent about what we have achieved or fall into the trap of thinking progress is inevitable without collective effort, bridge building, visibility, and vocal activism. Our existence is contested and if we are idle, those who stand against recognition of our rights and equality will quickly gain ground. As we are quickly learning from our neighbours to the south, what is done can be undone.
Raising the flag here at MRU must mean more than a simple checkbox for diversity and inclusion efforts. In a world where some folks still seek to remove us from the public sphere altogether, to deny our body autonomy and access to medicine, to deny our right to self-identify, to deny many of us the basic dignity of safe places to urinate, to impose culturally-bound, colonial notions of sex and gender upon us, to deny some of us our freedom of movement, privacy, and association, and yes, to deny many of us our right to love and marry who we want, raising the Pride flag here, today, is a beacon of institutional support for our basic right to be public about who we are (or private if we so choose) while in pursuit of higher education. Let the Pride flag here at MRU also serve as a beacon to others beyond our walls and borders who share in our identities and experiences under the LGBTQ2+ umbrella, to show them we won’t stand by idly as their rights and freedoms are trampled and blocked.
That said, I’m proud of what many of us have gained in Canada. I celebrate the institutional initiative in raising the Pride flag today and look forward to many more flag raisings in future Pride months in future years. Thank you all for being here today. Happy Pride! 🏳️🌈