York Regional Police joined York Pride in marking the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada with a forceful message of the need for more tolerance and inclusivity — and a little confetti and razzle-dazzle, thanks to the Devereaux Dolls Drag Family and Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance.
“This day commemorates 50 years of progress in recognizing the rights of 2SLGBTQ+ Canadians,” said Deputy Chief André Crawford said at a flag-raising event held at York Regional Police headquarters in Aurora yesterday. “We also acknowledge that although the decriminalization of homosexuality was passed in Bill C-150, we know many members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community faced — and continue to face — unequal treatment.
‘But this is an opportunity to get people talking and have conversations about our history and values … and to raise awareness about the struggles still faced by our 2SLGBTQ+ community.”
By hosting events such as the flag raising, and furthering education and awareness, Crawford said the force is sending a strong message that it supports all members of the community.
In 2014, York Regional Police formed the Pride Internal Support Network (ISN), which has grown to become a resource for not only police force members, but the community. The ISN is comprised of both sworn and civilian members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, as well as friends, family members and allies.
Throughout history, members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community have fought for the right to “live as their authentic selves, and to live free from the threat of violence and persecution, to love who they choose to love, to get married and to start a family, to express their gender identity, and to be respected and to be accepted,” Crawford said.
“At YRP, we find that most police and law enforcement personnel want to do the right thing but need more education so that they can confidently meet the needs of the 2SLGBTQ+ community,” Crawford added.
Jacob Gal of York Pride acknowledged the challenges still facing the 2SLGBTQ+ community by referring to the 50th anniversary of “partial decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada.”
York Pride has had an “over a decade” relationship with York Regional Police, which has included special events, language matters training, and a consultation table for action, as well as its upcoming 20th anniversary celebrating its history, courage and diversity in the region, he said.
“It’s very important that we continue to do social programming across York Region to include people and make them feel that they can be a part of the community,” Gal said.
The event featured high-energy performances by Newmarket-based Deveraux Dolls Drag Family https://www.facebook.com/thedevereauxdolls/ and Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance https://www.facebook.com/TorontoKikiBallroom/.
Miriam and Bethany Youngchief of Nin Os Kombucha Tin Native Cultural Centre of York Region and South Simcoe performed a land acknowledgement ceremony to open the event, which concluded with a Pride flag raising at the front of the YRP headquarters.
In attendance were community partners who are members of the Chief’s 2SLGBTQ+ Community Consultative Roundtable, including Pflag York Region, York Pride, the AIDS Committee of York Region, 360 ̊kids, the Canadian Mental Health Association, York Region District School Board and Family Services of York Region.
“We continue to grow as an organization. We will work toward ensuring our 2SLGBTQ+ citizens and members know they can rely on York Regional Police. Through these partnerships and collaborative efforts, we further our resolve to enhance the quality of life through combating hate, safeguarding fundamental rights and freedoms, and preserving the honour and dignity of all members of our diverse community,” Crawford said.