MRU taking steps to further recognize the LGBTQ+ community
By Nathan Woolridge, News Editor
On Aug. 28, MRU students, faculty and community members gathered for an unveiling of Calgary’s first permanent pride crosswalk between the EA building and the Riddell Library and Learning Centre.
Former SAMRU VP External and activist within the trans community, Aria Burrell was moved by the meaningful and inclusive addition to campus. “It brought tears to my eyes to see the Pride crosswalk on campus,” she said. “So many queer and trans students are enrolled at MRU and I know for many of us it can sometimes feel like an uphill battle to just get out of bed in the morning and face a world that can so often be hostile. It helps to know our institution has our backs.”
Local blogger and ex-MRU professor, Mike Morrison tweeted “Something to think about: Canada’s largest cities, only two do not have a permanent Pride crosswalk: Calgary and Quebec … Calgary removes their crosswalk every year.”
Morrison says that he is “thrilled” that MRU installed a permanent Pride crosswalk on campus.
Calgary company, Zoom Painting, donated the installation of the crosswalk and has offered to maintain it for the next five years. This contribution is estimated to cost around $17,500.
On Aug. 24, the third annual Gayger took place at Twisted Element. The event consisted of multiple DJs, dancing and “fabulous Drag Queens.” According to Calgary Pride’s website, the five dollar admission fee went “directly into the Pride Scholarship at Mount Royal University.”
According to Calgary Pride, the $500 scholarship is awarded to two students who make an impact for the LGBTQ+ community.
On June 15, Mount Royal University hosted a flag raising ceremony to acknowledge the LGBTQ+ community during pride month. The flag raising took place at the outdoor amphitheatre by the pond. The flag flew for the month of June and was raised again in August.
Before the flag was risen, Provost Leslie Brown and Burrell gave speeches about what the ceremony meant to them.
Brown shared a story about the personal meaning surrounding a previously attended Toronto Pride event. She expressed how important raising the pride flag was to her. “This flag symbolizes acceptance… it’s a flag for everyone” Brown says.
In her speech, Burrell cautioned against becoming complacent with a lack of effort in the face of progress. “The flag is symbolic, but now more than ever, it’s important for our institutions to be intentional in demonstrating, publicly, that LGBTQ2+ people are recognized as a permanent part of our campus,” she says.
“Raising the flag at MRU means more than checking off a box,” Burrell says.
Those in attendance were also welcome to share their own comments and stories.
Prior to the flag raising ceremony, Brown sent out an email saying, “June is Pride Month in Canada and it’s the first time that MRU will raise the Pride flag at this time of the year. This builds on MRU’s participation in the Pride Parade and events hosted by the Students’ Association.”
MRU also participated in the annual Calgary Pride Parade on Sept. 2. Last year, the school had over 200 people from the MRU community march in the parade.
According to Burrell, the changes that are happening on campus have come during an era of particular need. “In Alberta right now, Ontario, Canada, and in our neighbours to the South, we’re seeing backlash to the progress we’ve made from those who do not want queer and trans folks to lead public lives or exist in public institutions,” says Burrell.