August 9, 2020
This statement is to let our community members know that there was an unwelcome RCMP presence at Yukon Pride Flag raising ceremony on July 31, 2020.
We personally told the RCMP that uniforms and other symbols of the RCMP were not welcome at the Yukon Pride Festival on July 15, 2020. The officers we spoke with included the Chief Superintendent of the RCMP “M” Division.
On July 31, 2020, the same officers we spoke to at length broke our agreement and attended the Progress Pride Flag Raising Ceremony at the Yukon Legislative Assembly in uniform.
This visible police presence at the event caused confusion, anxiety and a sense of intimidation for some community members who were there. Queer Yukon Society sincerely apologizes to our community for not taking immediate action. It is our responsibility to create safer spaces at our events by clearly communicating our policies and implementing them. We have made a plan to respond immediately to any future police presence at our events.
Following the incident, we took the following actions to express our concerns:
In response to the second letter, the Chief Superintendent finally offered an apology and took some responsibility on August 5.
However, the other high-ranking RCMP officer involved in this matter also responded to Queer Yukon in an email. He apologized at first and then justified his presence at the flag raising ceremony, clearly demonstrating that he did not respect or understand why we have a policy on police participation in Pride. He also accused Queer Yukon of “practicing an ‘eye for an eye’ approach” and “discriminating” against police before adding that we should “show more tolerance.” The officer also insisted that Queer Yukon help the RCMP without mention of financial compensation.
Neither officer explained why they did not attend the event in plain clothes.
We call on the RCMP to reflect on what happened, the impact it had on community members, and why we, like many Prides, do not allow their symbols at our events. We are deeply disappointed with the RCMP’s commanding officers, who chose to disrespect our clearly stated wishes, and felt entitled to attend our events in uniforms and with other symbols of their police force without the consent of our community.
To our community members, we welcome your thoughts and concerns regarding this issue as we continue to work to keep our community safe for everyone. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or made anonymously at: https://www.queeryukon.com/community-safety.html
About queer yukon society
Queer Yukon Society supports, promotes, and organizes events for the LGBTQ2S+ community and our allies in Whitehorse, Yukon. Officially incorporated in 2018, Queer Yukon has been organizing Yukon Pride since 2013, as well as many other events to bring together LGBTQ2S+ and allied Yukoners to build a strong and vibrant community.