It’s time for StFX to permanently install the Pride flag & the Pan-African flag
Back in September of 2015 StFX permanently installed the Mi’kmaq flag, which was long overdue. This land was and still is the traditional homeland of the Mi’kmaq people. StFX made the move forward for helping the process of reconciliation and indigenizing this campus with this act.
On January 7, 2019 the pride flag was raised outside of Morrison hall to celebrate the beginning of pride month here at StFX. It was a very blustery cold day, but still people showed up to show their support and celebrate diversity. Alongside the pride flag sits, the Mi’kmaq, Nova Scotia, and Canadian flag. All of which are permanently installed. I think we can all agree that it’s time for StFX to permanently install the pride flag and Pan-African flag here on campus.
Bre O’Handley is the Gender and Sexual Diversity Advisor here at StFX. O’Handley is such an important figure on this campus and works tirelessly to make a positive difference on this campus, this university is lucky to have her working here. I asked O’Handley about the pride flag being permanently installed and what it would mean to the LGBTQ+ here on campus and she had this to say, “In the case of the flag at StFX, now that the Mi’kmaq flag is permanently installed, I definitely think the flag flown during African Heritage month should be permanently installed next as StFX has a long history of oppression with those communities. If StFX chose to fly the three flags (including the Pride flag), this would be a sign of respect and support for these communities which still experience discrimination. Flying the pride flag would indicate to students within the LGBTQ+ community that StFX is a space for them and that StFX as an institution acknowledges their presence on campus and welcomes them here. It’s really simple yet a powerful way that StFX can work towards being a more inclusive and welcoming campus to students who have historically been marginalized on campus.”
O’Handley made a very important point in her statement, the flag flown during African Heritage month should also be permanently installed.
February 1 will mark the beginning of African heritage month here at StFX, in which the Pan-African flag will also be raised for the month. I spoke with Summer-joy Upshaw, who is the Representative of Student of African Descent and asked her the similar question of why the Pan-African flag needs to be permanently installed at StFX.
“The importance of representation across our campus lies solely in the diversity of the people we represent. Being situated on a campus that is the home to many diverse backgrounds and cultures means that it is important to devote the utmost effort into accurately representing these cultures in an equitable and prosperous way.”
“The celebration of any group of individuals holds such a powerful impact that can only strengthen bonds of solidarity amongst social and cultural groups. Given that we are experiencing a time of extreme advocacy, on the behalf of many marginalized, stigmatized and oppressed groups, it only seems appropriate that our campus do its due diligence and continue creating an inclusive and culturally enriched environment for all that study here. The installment of a Pan-African flag holds extreme importance to me as I, myself, self-identify as African-Nova Scotian. Being the Representative for Students of African Descent on this campus, I witness many instances of injustice that still continue to affect our people.”
“I find it extremely crucial to continue advocating on behalf of my constituents, as equitable outcomes for all, on all planes, is a basic human right. With the installment of a Pan-African flag comes triumph and satisfaction. This flag not only symbolizes the great obstacles that our people have overcome, but it also gives acknowledgement to the point that regardless of the hardships we have been faced as a people, we have overcome it, and for that, we are resilient. The Pan-African flag is an emblem of strength and courage and deserves nothing more than to be flown high above our campus grounds in recognition of all of our African peoples.”
This institution prides itself and always expressed how it’s a very inclusive campus and a positive space for everyone no matter their race, sexuality, gender or religion. It does not take much to install these flags, but what they mean to the individuals that identity with these flags means everything.
It does not matter how much the university advertise words about inclusivity, words do not mean anything if no action is taken. University is hard, no matter what year of study you are in, or what one’s program is. The last thing that anyone would want to feel is not supported or the feeling of not being welcome. These flags represent parts of people identities, and how far they’ve had to come in life to get where they are today.
It’s 2019 and it’s time for StFX to make room for the Pride flag and the Pan-African flag outside of Morrison hall permanently.