Premier Rachel Notley was joined by three students from Blessed Oscar Romero Catholic High School on Thursday as the Pride flag was raised at the Alberta Legislature grounds.
The flag was raised as Pride festivities kicked off in Edmonton, ahead of Saturday’s parade.
The Pride flag is raised to honour the LGBTQ community, but the ceremony was extra special for the group of Edmonton students who, earlier this week, were told to take down Pride decorations at their school.
“I was crying for two hours, but now I’m not. So I guess things are going pretty good,” said Francis Nievera, a Grade 10 student at Blessed Oscar Romero.
Earlier this week, students from the west Edmonton high school put up decorations to celebrate Pride. The decorations included a chalk rainbow outside the front doors and flags in the school.
The principal ordered the students to remove the decorations, a move that drew backlash from students, supporters and the provincial government.
“The first reaction was to shut down the students activities and to take down all of their decorations and so forth, and that was wrong,” Education Minister David Eggen said.
The Catholic school board said the rainbow needed to go because chalk was being tracked into the building.
“This issue was that the custodians had an issue with chalk being used to make a rainbow flag at the front of the school,” trustee Debbie Engel said Wednesday afternoon.
Students protested the move and in the end, they were able to put the decorations back up. The board said it was all a miscommunication and an apology was issued.
“We have the Pride flag put back up, the principal actually put it up himself,” Nievera said. “I’ve seen videos of it while I was in class and, we’re having Pride events and it’s really, really cool.”
Listen below: 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen speaks with Edmonton Catholic School Board trustees about Pride decorations at Blessed Oscar Romero Catholic High School
Notley said the students’ stance on the issue makes the community stronger.
“The principal at this school, and indeed the Catholic school board, have taught a valuable lesson to these students and frankly to all Albertans about how important it is to stand up for those things that you believe are right when the time comes.”
The Pride flag was also raised at Edmonton City Hall on Thursday. Dozens of people, including Mayor Don Iveson, were on hand to kick off Pride week.
The parade will make its way down Whyte Avenue on Saturday morning.
With files from Tom Vernon, Global News.