Rainbow display in Ponoka vandalized as Pride month begins

Click to play video: 'Rainbow display in Ponoka, Alta. vandalized as Pride month begins'
Rainbow display in Ponoka, Alta. vandalized as Pride month begins
WATCH: Pride month has kicked off, but not the way many were hoping. In one Alberta community, a rainbow sidewalk has been vandalized and the community says it's an example of why Pride is so necessary. Nicole Stillger has more. – Jun 2, 2023

A rainbow display at Ponoka United Church in Alberta was vandalized near the beginning of Pride month, according to Ponoka Pride members.

Jessica Jones said tar and eggs were thrown at the painted display on the steps of the church.

“It’s very disheartening,” she said.

Jones said she believes the vandalism is linked to comments made by newly-elected MLA Jennifer Johnson.

In an audio recording from September, Johnson can be heard speaking at a forum when she says Alberta’s well-ranked education system doesn’t matter when some students are transgender.

“It does not matter that we’re in the top three per cent of the world. Who cares if they got 89 per cent in Chemistry 30? Who cares that they’re entering post-secondary — if they’re chemically castrated?” she said in the recording.

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Click to play video: 'LGBTQ community not surprised, but disappointed in Jennifer Johnson win'
LGBTQ community not surprised, but disappointed in Jennifer Johnson win

Johnson went on to compare a handful of transgender students in the school system to mixing a teaspoon of feces into a batch of baked goods.

“‘Enjoy (the cookies), I only put a teaspoon of poop in them, but it doesn’t matter because it’s only a teaspoon in the whole batch,’” she is heard saying.

“Same idea — we can be top three per cent, but that little bit of poop is what wrecks it.”

Johnson won 67 per cent of the votes, beating out the NDP candidate Dave Dale by around 10,000 ballots, according to unofficial Elections Alberta results.

She had been running as a UCP candidate until the comments were made public and party leader Danielle Smith said she would not sit with the caucus.

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Johnson said in a social media statement afterward that she had met with the Transgender Equality Society of Alberta and would be willing to meet with any community group to educate herself on their concerns.

MLA-elect for Lacombe-Ponoka Jennifer Johnson. handout / United Conservative Party

Global News reached out to Johnson via email and Facebook message for comment regarding the vandalism but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Ponoka Pride said despite reaching out and asking if she would help clean up the rainbow, Johnson has not yet replied to their messages.

“We need to hear from her about this, because I do believe that there is a correlation between the hateful speech that she has communicated out to our society and then this happens,” said Jones.

The vandalism won’t stop the group from celebrating Pride, Jones said — there will be a Pride in the Park celebration on June 10 from noon to 4 p.m. in Centennial Park.

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“This goes to show that we have much more work to do.

“We will not be silenced,” said Jones. “We will continue our work and we will continue speaking out.”

Ponoka RCMP said officers are investigating the vandalism.

Police said the motivation is unknown until suspects are identified and interviewed.

Anyone with information regarding the crime is asked to call the Ponoka detachment at 403-783-4471 or submit anonymous tips on Crime Stoppers.

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