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TO PRIDE FLAG OR NOT TO PRIDE FLAG?

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Martin Rooney, Large Pride Flag Holland Park

CREDIBILTY? HOMOPHOBIA? DISCRIMINATION? OR ALL THREE?

Guest Post Op/Ed by Martin Rooney

Epic fail to deliver by Surrey First Mayoral Candidate Linda Hepner. First it was Mayor Dianne Watts who had ownership of the issue and refused to fly the Pride Flag on city Flag Poles (in support of the GLBT Athletes competing in the Sochi Winter Games), claiming there had been “no formal request made”. Madam Mayor, it is 2014 and I for one ensured that you and all members of the council received an email that included a very specific request – to join the other cities across Canada in supporting the GLBT Athletes in Sochi, following Putin’s installation of the some of the world’s recent most aggressive anti GLBT laws.

From there an Alliance of GLBT leaders and community groups was formed to address this going forward. A formal “official” delegation was organized and we asked to speak before council…..we did that June 9th. In that meeting we were instantly granted one of our requests – an Exhibit of GLBT History of Surrey that includes a Pride Flag in the atrium of the new city hall. At the same meeting councillor Rasode asked that the clerk come back with a report explaining how local municipalities were in fact flying the flag. This gave us hope that Surrey City Council would in fact research and come back with a positive report June 23rd…. the agenda was released for the meeting and we discover that the flag policy would be under the Corporate Report – a report that does not allow for any public discussion.

Also the corporate report gave the impression that a brand new (they warbled about the fact that there ever was official flag policy) flag policy was proposed and adopted that would only allow the Federal, Provincial and Municipal Flags to fly on ALL municipal flag poles. (in 2010 the Olympic Flag flew under the municipal flag – so a no cost solution????). There was no report provided in response to Councillor Rasode’s request. Rather a “new” flag protocol pushed through council. There apparently will be no further discussion on that issue until perhaps we have a new Mayor and Council elected in November 2014. (the relevant video clips of the delegation and response are on Encourage Surrey BC City Hall to fly the Pride Flag – a Facebook Page).

The issue of credibility lies in the explanation that Ms Hepner delivered. Mayor Watts (acting like the lame duck Mayor she is) excused herself from both council meetings that engaged in this dialogue. It was how Ms Hepner related the decision of the council and then the proposal to allow effectively any size banner or flag, “that could be as high as the birds flying from the ceiling of the Atrium” that is called into question. After the exhibit was built, and the Pride Flag standing on the flag pole at its side, Surrey Pride representatives arrived with a 20′ x 40′ Rainbow Flag to the consternation of staff at city hall. Ms Hepner was unavailable to assist staff and confirm or deny she had given the direction that this was all ok. The staff, one of whom was at the (council) meeting, refused to listen to, and watch the video clip. If the offer was not a bona fide offer, then fine, but to be unable for comment on a Thursday afternoon to take responsibility for one’s words and promises. At the time of writing this there has been no written response from Ms. Hepner, her staff or city hall as to the legitimate reason that the 20′ x 40′ piece of coloured fabric cannot be hung inside the atrium.

Mayor Watts, remember who is a lame duck Mayor, took to the airways promoting a community flag pole…..awesome. At a cost of $200,000…..Expensive for a flag pole? Why not have been proactive and install the 4th flagpole while building the new city hall? This was not the first time that the Pride flag had been a discussion with Dianne Watts…..The kicker – the community has to raise the $200,000. (The next question is – what policy determines who gets to use that pole and what causes or celebrations will be endorsed usages of the pole?).

So Pride happens and we have a successful event. The exhibit was well attended during the week and the story continued even after the festival was over – The following statement comes from the keynote speech delivered by Mr Gay Canada 2014 Christepher Wee (made while all attending members of council were on the stage along with members of the Imperial Court of Surrey whose Monarchs were in drag and wearing crowns) – with the 20′ x 40′ flag on display meters away –

“For me, the significance of our Rainbow Flag has evolved beyond the reflection of our struggles, remembrance of our sacrifices and loses, celebration of our victories, education and enlightenment of the causes we still strive to see realized. Our Rainbow Flag has evolved to encompass what it means to be one community, one people, one voice regardless of where we fit into the LGBTQA+ spectrum of our diverse rainbow family of human beings.

Regrettably, in spite of celebrating 15 years of Pride here in Surrey, the City’s unwillingness to raise our Rainbow Flag shows that even in our own home, where our pioneers have done so much to secure our rights, we still have a long way to go.
Our complacency and our silence condone the lack of local social and civil progress. Complacency and silence condone inequality. And complacency and silence condone the lack of political leadership. Even Thompson, Manitoba, which celebrated its first Pride last week, had our Rainbow Flag raised! Our own provincial capital, Victoria, also raised our Rainbow Flag during this week’s Victoria Pride.

I feel that it is unacceptable as a City which prides itself on its GSAs, its support of Protect Surrey Schools Together, and its 15-year history of Pride celebrations, that raising our Rainbow Flag is met with political rhetoric and resistance.

What kind of example are we setting for our youth and for other communities such as Thompson, Manitoba, when civic leaders do not lead by example and do not possess the vision of a tomorrow that embraces, acknowledges, and celebrates our diversity as one community?

We all need to “Rise Up!”, the theme of this year’s WorldPride, to proactively advocate for our rights and to question the contradictions and hypocrisy that still exist in our communities today.”

So the scrambled response to the media (Global TV) was that “by next year there would be a 4th flag pole and the Pride flag would fly at city hall”

The taxpayers of this city have paid more than their fair share. The diversity that this administration has espoused throughout this term needs to be defined…. Perhaps the discussion needs to be the definition of diversity and how the 2nd largest city in the Province can have an open and honest dialogue on all the issues affecting this great city. Perhaps it is time for the community associations to embrace this dialogue and perhaps embracing the community Hub idea of Councillor Rasode and making it a reality in all the town centres of our city to hear what the people have to say.

Martin Rooney
Community Advocate
Surrey (Whalley) BC Canada

This article was submitted by a reader from the Surrey Community. You can submit your own community story, press release, event or public notice directly to our Community Board today! We also have advertising and promotional options for businesses.

Community Board

Rally Against Police Murder July 4 Surrey BC

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Vigil for Ejaz Choudry and Rally Against Police Murder 
MOVED TO JULY 4
We demand and public inquiry into how Police Murder are handled. 

The Al-jamia Mosque in Vancouver and Coalition Against Bigotry will hold a prayer vigil on Friday June 26th at the Al-Jamia Mosque at 655 West 8th Ave during at
during Friday Juma prayers at 1 pm to mourn the murdered of Choudry, a 62 year old South Asian man struggling with his mental health by the police in Malton Ontario on Saturday June 20th.

Because it a 50 person limit in the Mosque, people can join and online solidarity prayer vigil on Facebook. Please can pray in their own way and time or have a moment of silence to think about the tragic murder of Ejaz Choudry.

Then join West Coast Cop Watch and Coalition Against Bigotry-Pacific for a Rally and March Against Police murder and abuse on July 1st at 1 pm at the Central City Mall where the Independent Investigation Office of BC is located, to protest the lack of police responsibly and accountability of the murder and abuse by the police. We demand a public inquiry into how police murders and handled in BC. We want to remember Chantel Moore, Ejaz Choudry Kyaw Din, Tony Du, Navarone Woods and many others, mostly Indigenous, Black and People of Colour who have been murdered or abused by the police.

Kyaw Din, who also struggled with his mental health like Ejaz Choudry was also murdered by the RCMP in Coquitlam last year in his home. The Din family held a rally outside the IIO office and Surrey City Centre in February demanding answers from the IIO. They don’t even know the name of the police officer who killed their brother. We also remember Tony Du who was murdered by the Vancouver Police, a Vietnamese, Chinese man also struggling with his Mental health. The police officer who shot Du did hot get charged with murder.

We also Navarone Woods, a Gitxsan indigenous man murdered by the Skytrain Police. The Coroners Jury and also asked for better mental health support during police incidents.

We ask people to wear masks and keep 2 meters distance. We will march to the RCMP E Division Headquarters and then end with a potluck physical distance picnic in Green Timbers Urban Forest.

We acknowledge that this event is being organised on the occupied, traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples – specifically the Musquem, Squamish, Kwantlen, Semiahmoo, Stolo, Musqueam, Katzie and Qayqayt Nations.

For more information, contact Imtiaz Popat at 604 396-2072

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Local Innovation Combats Overdose Crisis

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OVERDOSE INTERVENTION APP: New Digital Technology Released to Address the Overdose Crisis

Today, Oxus Machine Works Limited (OMW Ltd)., a local health technology firm that specializes in innovations for diverse communities, announced that they are releasing the Overdose Intervention App (ODi) to combat the ongoing Public Health Emergency and the staggering rise of overdose deaths during COVID-19.

Of this innovation and its impact, Upkar Singh Tatlay (Managing Director) of the tech firm Oxus Machine Works said, “This vital tool engages the entire community in ensuring we are prepared for any circumstance that involves an overdose emergency. Often the onus is on the user themselves but by placing this digital asset in everyone’s hands we are making sure that this a community-wide response and we are all empowered to act.  In addition, communities that are most directly impacted by this health crisis such as South Asians are often left out of consideration when it comes to programming, technology, and content. ODi ensures that the unique needs of BIPOC communities are met through the delivery of linguistic and culturally appropriate content.”

The deployment of the Overdose Intervention App will happen through a network of peers with lived-experience along with the ongoing work of outreach events that are held every week. Media and key stakeholders are encouraged to attend to see proactive steps taking place to address the overdose crisis.

Overdose Intervention App: The Overdose Intervention App (ODi) allows users of different communities and language backgrounds to rapidly respond to an overdose emergency with resources and guidance that is suitable to their needs. This app includes an innate 9-1-1 calling feature, techniques to identify a suspected overdose, steps to administer naloxone, and sequential guidance on emergency first aid response. The Overdose Intervention App allows everyone to access linguistic and culturally relevant resources to offset the dangers of an overdose for free on both Android and Apple devices.

Web:  www.stopoverdoseapp.com

Facebook: @stopoverdoseapp

Instagram: @stopoverdoseapp

Twitter: @stopoverdose2

 

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The Witch of British Columbia, Canada | Stand-Up Comedy by Madhav Mehandru

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This video is about last year when 3 Stand-up comedians from Punjab had a stand-up comedy show in British Columbia [Victoria], Canada on 1st August 2019. How I and other Stand-up comedians Raj and Akshay from Kapurthala [Punjab] tackled difficulties of first time going in Canada and performing on a big stage in victoria [British Columbia], Canada. As a Punjabi, we were very excited to visit Canada and performed there and it was a rollercoaster ride from landing in Canada and meeting difficulties from time to time. First, we had difficulty in understanding English than when I met a witch in Victoria [British Columbia] and how we tacked that witch then our show organizer refused to pay. This video covers our days in Canada from 31 July to 3rd August and finally arriving home in Kapurthala, Punjab on 4th August.

Follow me on social media Profiles :- Instagram:@madhav.live/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/comiccc/

By Madhav Mehandru

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DIVERSEcity CEO Neelam Sahota talks about supporting mothers at home and in the workplace for Mother’s Day

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On Mother’s Day this year, let’s take time to not only celebrate mothers, but really acknowledge them. See them. Not just the smile on their lips, but the worry in their eyes. The exhaustion on their faces. The load on their shoulders.

The COVID-19 global crisis has highlighted the emotional, often invisible, workload that mothers carry. It has also increased that workload.

As we self-isolate in our homes, mothers are carrying the burden of homeschooling, often while working full-time jobs from home, in addition to the cooking, cleaning, shopping and so on.

Many are also still working outside the home, as leaders on health care’s frontlines, or working in essential or service industries, helping us all safely access groceries and essentials during this crisis. We are also seeing amazing women leaders rise up to battle this crisis at the policy level.

For all of them, traditional lines of work and home are being blurred, and it’s important we don’t dismiss or ignore the pressure mothers may be under now — and as we rebuild our workplaces after COVID-19.

As a mother myself, I remember the challenges of building a career in a traditional workplace when my kids were young. When I took on the role of CEO at DIVERSEcity with three children under the age of 12, I was fortunate to have a strong support network. But I still had to make accommodations and choose priorities for myself as a professional versus a mother. During this crisis, I can only imagine the strain working mothers of young children are currently under.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission says that COVID-19 is “having a disproportionate impact on women. Social and economic barriers have been amplified for racialized women, Indigenous women, migrant women, women with low income, single mothers and other women. They are at greater risk of job loss, poverty, food insecurity, loss of housing and domestic violence.”

The Commission recommends taking a feminist approach to re-establishing our workplaces. Canadian Women’s Foundation calls for us to invest in diverse women’s leadership opportunities and empower girls, asking us to imagine what women could achieve if we supported them to the fullest.

Flexible workplaces need to be more of the norm

As a leader of a social services organization, I want all my employees, especially mothers, to feel supported during this crisis. As we all continue to work from home, providing services to our clients through phone and virtual options, I want them to know we see them, we appreciate them and we will give them the flexibility they need not just during COVID-19, but as part of our permanent organizational culture. I would not be in my role today if I did not have flexibility in my career along the way. This is my commitment to working mothers in our organization. You don’t have to choose between being a mother and being a professional. Organizational cultures like DIVERSEcity’s need to be the equalizer and more of the norm in our workplaces today.

As for what’s next? Let’s use the lessons from this crisis to reimagine the 21st century workplace more thoughtfully. Let’s all be more flexible and more authentic to who we are and what we need as professionals, as parents, as humans.

To all the mothers holding things together for their families in these challenging times, have a happy Mother’s Day.

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Seeking Yoga Instructors interested in giving classes outdoors in parks

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Hi There!

Just wondering if there are any Yoga  Instructors interested in giving outdoor classes at Bakerview Park in South Surrey? It is an awesome, well tended park with lots of space for social distancing. Since Community Centers are closed and will remain so for the foreseeable future, activities like this would be great and popular, I bet. Specially with the weather getting nicer everyday. Anyone?

Contact authorannicklemay@icloud.com if interested.

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