A Halifax queer-centred café is asking members of the LGBTQ community, including former students, to come in and sign a replacement Pride flag destined for Bay View High School. The school's previous flag was burned in April.
In a video of the incident obtained by CBC News, students could be seen standing around the burning flag, and singing and laughing.
For Alex Marchand, a co-owner of Glitter Bean Cafe, it hit close to home.
Before graduating from Bay View in 2021, Marchand signed the flag alongside her fellow queer classmates. She remembers feeling a sense of relief at having made it through high school, a time that can be especially challenging for LGBTQ students.
"It was [just] a flag, but it was made into something more by the students who signed it," she said Sunday. "So it was an extra hard hit, having that burned."
In recent years, it had become a right of passage for outgoing queer graduates to leave messages of affirmation behind for the queer students of the future.
"We're all just here for each other," she said. "You can tear the flag down as many times as you want ... we're just gonna put up a new one. You can't get rid of us."
Glitter Bean is owned and operated by its queer workers.
It is one of the few queer spaces in Halifax that is accessible to LGBTQ folks of all ages.
Marchand says it's a place current Bay View students are welcome to come visit and hang out with like-minded people.
"We host events here," she said. "We just did a drag brunch the other day. Having a space that is queer-centric that anybody can access is so important."
Marchand, who uses she/they pronouns, was the first to sign the flag, which was donated to Bay View students from Venus Envy, another local queer-centred business.
The new flag is a version of the progress flag, which goes beyond the traditional rainbow flag and includes additional stripes that represent the transgender community and queer people of colour.
On it, she wrote a simple message to remind students there's a vast, welcoming world outside the walls of their current high school.
"Since graduating I have met so many cool people in my community," said Marchand. "It's the cheesiest line in the book, but, oh my God, does it [ever] get better."
The flag is currently on display in the café and will be available to sign all day on Monday.
It will then be delivered to the Tantallon high school, where graduating queer students are expected to sign the flag when they finish school this June.
The RCMP say they believe the flag burning in April was motivated by hate based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.
Earlier this month, three youths were charged in connection to the incident.
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