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Grande Prairie Pride Society disheartened by hateful acts toward community

The Grande Prairie Pride Society hopes recent acts of vandalism and hatred towards the 2SLGTBQIA+ community don’t diminish the growth in support seen over the past several years. Last week, the Grande Prairie RCMP reported it was investigating a number of stolen Pride flags, a Pride flag that was found burned downtown, and hateful words and signs that were spray painted on a Pride mural at The Community Village.

Grande Prairie Pride Society Vice President Jessica Schoepp says seeing these acts is disheartening after the steps the community has made over the past several years to feel like a safe, welcoming, and inclusive place.

“We just had our largest Pride celebration ever; we had thousands of community members out,” Schoepp says. “We see our partners in Pride all around the city, there are stickers on the doors, and there are people continually stepping up. So, it is always disheartening when we feel like we have a step back from that.”

She adds the hope is that when situations like this happen, the negative acts do not overshadow all of the positive steps made. Schoepp says the visual representation that the flags, the Friends of Pride membership stickers, and the murals and crosswalks create are an important part of the work that has been done in the community and promotes that Grande Prairie is a safe and inclusive community.  She adds that, even when hateful acts happen, the support shown by the community vastly outweighs the negativity.

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“Time and time again when something like this happens we get private messages from businesses, we have support on our posts, volunteers stepping in to repaint something or put more signs up or donate more flags.”

Schoepp adds that when acts of hatred happen, they also create an opportunity for conversation. She encourages those in the community to check out the number of 2SLGTBQIA+ organizations in the community, and learn how they not only educate but help the community. She says there is tons of literature that people can read if that is something they want to do or to just ask the question, “How can I help?”

She also says there are security cameras set up to monitor mural at 102 Avenue and 101 Street and the footage is being given to the RCMP to assist in their investigation. Police have asked anyone with information on any of the mischief to contact the detachment or Crime Stoppers.

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