A controversial flag raising took place in the southern Alberta town of Taber Saturday afternoon. Two years ago, a pride flag was taken down and destroyed by fire.
“Words just can’t explain how I’m feeling to have the pride flag raising again here in Taber for the third year in a row,” said Jayce Wilson, co-chair of Taber Equality Alliance.
Many hoped that the third time was the charm, as raising a pride flag in the town has proven to be difficult and controversial.
“When the flag was torn down and burned, it was horrible. It was heart-wrenching when I saw the message and I came in, I burst into tears and it was a very emotional day,” Wilson said.
In an effort to protect the flag at the time, LGBTQ supporters camped outside at the base overnight. While that helped prevent vandalism, the trouble didn’t stop there — this time, it was with the town’s council.
“In one of their meetings, we didn’t know this meeting was going to happen, they changed their flag protocol and basically worded it: on all town-owned flag polls, the Canadian flag, the provincial flag or the town of Taber flag can only be flown,” Wilson said.
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While it may have been a setback at the municipal level, organizers said it wasn’t the end.
“As soon as that broke in the media, Sandra Jansen — the infrastructure minister at the time — got on Twitter and said, ‘Hey, you can use our flag pole at the provincial building,'” Wilson said.
That provincial support continued among government parties at the event with a recorded message from NDP Leader Rachel Notley and a visit by Liberal Party Leader David Khan.
READ MORE: Taber Town Council denies request to fly Pride flag, removes community flagpole altogether
“It’s so important that government shows support for inclusivity and diversity and LGBTQ rights and that’s why we’re here supporting this great day,” said Khan.
The Taber Equality Alliance said it also invited UCP MLA Grant Hunter but he was unable to attend. Meanwhile, the group is enthusiastic about its growth and support from the community.