While allies of the LGBTQ community in High River are praising a government funding announcement, they also wish it wasn’t needed. 

“I'm glad that they're providing the funding, but I'm sad that it exists,” said Halle Minkler, the Director and Founder of High River Pride. 

On Monday morning, the Liberal Government announced up to $1.5 million for Fierté Canada Pride to administer funds to support security needs for Pride festivals. The money will help offset rising security and insurance costs including additional security and training to increase the capacity of volunteers and community members. 

"While the Government is committed to supporting organizations, such as Fierté Canada Pride, we must make sure that the rights and safety of all Canadians are protected," said Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, Marci Ien in a statement.  

"No one should live in fear of being who they are." 

Minkler welcomed the news as the local Pride Society prepares for one of its biggest events of Pride Month.  

A rainbow crosswalk will be painted on 5th Avenue in front of The Venue after Town Council approved an updated motion for the crosswalk to go ahead under the condition that High River Pride bears responsibility for maintaining it.

When Council approved the crosswalk, they also said they would give safety barricades and security officers through RCMP or Protective Services if required. 

“We're trying to get a couple peace officers, one at each end of the barricades because we're closing off 5th Ave. for like half the day,” said Minkler who added that most of Council did not realize the crosswalk was necessary until they received pushback from residents. 

As they were discussing the motion regarding the rainbow crosswalk at their meeting on May 27th, several councillors acknowledged they received emails and phone calls from residents concerned about the project. 

“We’ve seen a lot of division and that surprised me,” said Councillor Jenny Jones. “It’s really hurtful to see that come forward in some of the things that we had to deal with just over something like this.” 

Mayor Craig Snodgrass said he had spent hours on the phone with different residents to hear their point-of-view on the crosswalk. While he didn’t name anyone or group in particular, he stated the conversations showed many in the LGBTQ community in High River are not welcome. 

“Some people do not wish to even recognize that the LGBTQ community even exists,” he said. “I have a serious problem with this as I believe that we are a community that accepts everyone, and everyone does belong here.” 

For Minkler, she believes the Town has made progress over the years but there are still many who do not feel safe. She said she knows of many young people who left High River once they became adults because they didn’t feel the level of acceptance they were hoping for. 

Minkler added that despite the pushback on Pride activities in the Town, the community is making progress. 

“It's growing in terms of more people moving here and I think that there are more and more GSAs at schools. I think that there's more opportunities for young people to feel included and safe and that they can be themselves,” she said. 

The painting of the rainbow crosswalk will take place on June 15th at the midpoint crosswalk on 5th Avenue, followed by a celebration at the gazebo in George Lane Park.