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Painting courtesy walks in rainbow Pride colours, a celebration of North Bay's diversity and acceptance

'Our city is becoming more and more inclusive, and we need to make sure that all our citizens feel safe here'

Called a celebration of North Bay’s diversity and acceptance, as many as 100 people came out to paint the Rainbow Pride colours along a section of Main Street between Fraser and Ferguson streets late Sunday afternoon.

Pride committee co-chair and organizer of the Courtesy Walk Painting Project, Lucie St. John was floored by the response.  

“I’m overwhelmed. I can’t even describe what I’m feeling inside that this actually took place," said St. John.

"I was so nervous because I was scared that it wasn’t going to turn out the way it has, but it’s a huge success. Everybody is amazing and there’s been so much support business-wise, and personally. It’s incredible.”  

The colours are permanent and will require annual touch-ups.

“We’re saying it’s a statement," she said.  

"It’s that we’re here and there are all kinds of us here and we should all be treated the same. This is part of where the parade march goes on the route.”  

Sunday’s event is considered a lead up to Pride week which runs from July 18 to July 21.

“I went to Toronto and saw something similar and thought we should be painting this in North Bay," she said.

"Our city is becoming more, and more inclusive, and we need to make sure that all our citizens feel safe here. I think that making this happen is a big part of starting to make it safe."

Co-chair of the Pride committee, Colleen McGinn is happy to see that “a lot of good people are making a lot of good things happen in North Bay. “

And she sees that support growing.

“I’m proud of North Bay for accepting this. I’m proud to see young and old working beside each other, and gender fluidity happening here. Sexual identity is kind of a non-issue down here right now. To see everybody coming together and working towards acceptance of diversity in North Bay is just really awesome to see,” said McGinn.

“We’re hoping to create a lot of safe spaces. I think the fact that we’re able to do this shows that North Bay is moving towards safe spaces. We’ve got some movement in some of the schools, and some of the public buildings, and we’re looking to create more safe spaces throughout the city.”

It was a definite party atmosphere, with music pumping in the background, balloons swaying with the breeze and the sound of excited chatter and laughter filling the air.

Young and old, including parents with young children, kneeled together taking turns painting the two courtesy walks.  

“One of the girls on our Pride committee is Mary and she’s 70 years old. And there’s Jeffrey, who is 17 years old. It’s been interesting to see the two generations and how together they’re making things happen. Mary didn’t get to come out when she wanted to because it wasn’t so socially acceptable to be out. And then there’s Jeffrey who is out because it’s okay to be out. So it’s really amazing to see the two having that freedom, knowing that it’s safe to come out.”

St. John thanked city councillors Jeff Serran, and Tanya Vrebosch, as well Mayor Al McDonald for their help in making this event happen.  

“To see the community come out and paint this walk, and the enthusiasm they had, it was pretty special. I think that just speaks to how inclusive and welcoming our city is,” said McDonald.”

“What we’re celebrating is diversity. Everybody that’s beautiful, is beautiful because they are different, and there’s a lot of beauty happening around here,” said McGinn.