Red Deer College demonstrated its LGBTQ+ pride with the raising of a rainbow pride flag at its main entrance on Monday morning.
About 50 people came out for the flag raising during Central Alberta Pride Week, but college officials said diversity is celebrated year-round at RDC.
RDC president Joel Ward said there are horrible things happening in the world today, referring to how one person died and several were injured after a car drove into a peaceful demonstration against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday.
“Today is an example of the direction that this college is headed, that this college believes, and this community needs to see and needs to continue to change,” said RDC president Joel Ward about the flag raising, the college’s second annual Pride Week event.
He said the next generation have to make sure the voices of hate and division don’t take over.
“It’s really going to be up you and your generation not let that happen. And it can happen here in our own community, and it our own province and our own country,” Ward said to students in the crowd.
Serge Gingras, Central Alberta Pride Society board chair and former RDC instructor, said it’s very important for the college to raise a pride flag. What influences a community are the decisions that come from the top. Ideas and support flow out into the community.
During his 30 years at RDC Gingras was the faculty advisor for Pride on Campus and he hoped the initiative will broaden to include everyone connected to the college.
William Baliko, RDC Students’ Association president, said a flag raising can mean a lot to some people.
“This flag raising raises hope. It’s a symbol of acceptance and a symbol of love and a symbol that it’s safe being who you are here and everywhere,” Baliko said.
“No one should have to feel the persecution and pain that many of the members of the LGBTQ community have faced. For many it’s been a struggle and for a lot of communities it’s been an uphill battle but I think that’s really changed,” he said.
Shannon Humphrey, a RDC graduate who spoke at the flag raising, said she didn’t know what to expect when she first arrived at RDC. But the inclusive culture and small class sizes made it easy for her to be comfortable in her own skin.
“Everyone sort of did their own thing. There was no normal but rather an understanding that people are different and thus don’t have to be categorized or cataloged,” Humphrey said.
“I’m very proud to say that Red Deer College was a safe space for me.”