On October 21, members of the Northern Pride Centre (NPC) discovered vandalized resources outside their door. This was not the first time resources had been defaced, but was one of the more targeted and premeditated attacks: vandalism of Blood Ban pamphlets.
The Blood Ban is a controversial issue within the LGBTQ2S+ community, in which members, particularly gay men, cannot donate blood. The fact that all seventeen pamphlets were defaced and were offensively edited suggests the offender was acting purposely, with a motive specifically against gay men. Slurs used by the offender in their personal vendetta are a cause for concern for everyone within the UNBC community.
The use of hate speech violates section 319, subsections 1 and 2, of the Criminal Code of Canada under Hate Propaganda. This section refers to the inciting of hatred against a group in a public manner, and is punishable by law. This occurrence on UNBC property is shocking, and has challenged the safety of a minority group on campus.
While the Northern Pride Centre is an advocate for equality and acts as a resource for those within the community, it is above all a safe place where members are free to disengage from discourse and simply be themselves. The Board of the Northern Pride Centre wants to make everyone aware of the fact that this campus should remain safe for everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, and anything or everything in between.
The NPC reached out to other groups, SLOs, organizations, etc. around campus and received the following words of support. We can not thank any of these community members enough. Their statements follow:
“It’s come to my attention that a sad example of hatred and ignorance recently surfaced on our campus. Our Northern Pride Centre office, led by students, was working to raise awareness about the deferral period in Canada for gay and bisexual men to donate blood, calling on the government to repeal legislation to increase the pool of potential, healthy, safe donations. Unfortunately, some repugnant and unacceptable text was scrawled on the posters that were designed to be a positive campaign.
Let me be unequivocally clear – this is simply not acceptable behaviour.
We continue to provide support to our friends in the Northern Pride Centre. These individuals play a vital role in fostering positivity and messages of inclusion, collaboration, and strength in community.
We are working with our safety and security team to delve into the issue to determine how this happened, and who was involved. We have also alerted the RCMP, who take incidents of this nature seriously.
In addition, representatives from our Counselling Services are working with the Northern Pride Centre to provide support, not only to them, but by extension to all members of our community who make up such a vital part of our ecosystem.
This is hate speech, something that our community will not accept or ignore. If you have information or knowledge related to this incident, I urge you to come forward and contact our Director of Safety and Security, Sarah Elliott at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will treat each complaint or piece of information confidentially and with complete discretion.
I choose to believe that this vile act could not possibly have been perpetrated by a member of the UNBC family; it’s simply not who we are. We set goals that are visionary and inspirational; we don’t sink to levels of hatred, bigotry, racism or exclusion.
On behalf of the UNBC community, I thank the members of the Northern Pride Centre for the good work they do each day to be advocates, champions, supporters, and leaders. Your contributions to life on our campus are immeasurable and invaluable. Know that we stand with you and will not sit idly by when the forces of division and intolerance emerge. Peace, love, and understanding will rule the day.”
UNBC President Daniel Weeks
“NUGSS has been informed by the Pride Centre that several acts of defacement have recently taken place. These acts were performed on informative material located outside of the Pride Centre. The comments themselves are hateful and inappropriate, and it would be counterproductive to repeat them.
The Pride Centre has been the subject of disrespect and defacement in the past. This Centre is intended to be an inclusive and welcoming space, and is open to all. It is a great space for gaining information, making friends, and studying. It is important that all students respect this space, particularly as one that is meant to promote open and civil conversation. As an institution, university, and student body, we welcome conversation.
These acts do not promote respect, civility, or engagement with fellow students in good faith. These acts serve only to further ignorance and insensitivity, and do not have any place at UNBC.
Moving forward, NUGSS is exploring the installation of security cameras in or around the Pride Centre, in the hope that they will deter any further vandalism. It is an unfortunate step to have to take.
Moving the conversation forward means doing so in the open — giving your fellow students the opportunity to engage with your views, however controversial. NUGSS sincerely hopes that students will take a more respectful approach to the expression of their beliefs.
If any student has information on the vandalism, please contact NUGSS, either in person, by email, or over the phone.”
NUGSS President Ethan Fredeen
“The recent vandalism of the Pride Centre is an act of blatant violence and ignorance that will not be tolerated. The Equity Council stands in support with all members and ally’s of the pride centre and will continue to advocate for the mutual respect and universal education to remove misinformation and acts of discrimination on campus.”
NUGSS Equity Council
“Over The Edge Newspaper seeks to reflect and advocate for the perspectives of UNBC students. This includes all students, regardless of how they may identify or experience the world; some of the most timely and important revelations come from those who are most marginalized in society. OTE fully supports and stands with the Northern Pride Centre, who have worked tirelessly to create an environment of awareness, safety, and acceptance for the LGBTQ2S+ community. One aspect of this work is using posters to raise awareness of the unfair and exclusionary regulations placed upon gay, bisexual, and queer men when donating blood. Though vital to remember the AIDS crisis of the 1980’s, we do no favors for anyone by associating fear of blood-borne illness with any particular community, especially in a time of high blood demand The horrible slurs and phrases graffitied on the NPC’s posters were completely ignorant and discriminatory. This sort of hatred will not be tolerated by OTE and the campus community. Every person deserves to feel as safe as possible in their learning environment.”
Over The Edge Newspaper
“Inspiring Women Among Us (IWAU) believes in respecting the inherent dignity, worth, and human rights of all individuals. IWAU opposes any action that attacks the integrity or human rights of any person. We support our friends in the Northern Pride Centre and work to preserve and advance the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming people on campus and in Prince George. We expect and demand a UNBC atmosphere of inclusiveness and acceptance where we are all valued and feel safe.”
2018 IWAU Team
“University is a place of higher learning, expanding your mind, and generally going beyond that which you knew before you got here. It’s a place where we as students are challenged both within the classroom and without, as we prepare ourselves to tackle the challenges of the world we will soon inherit, and more importantly, understand ourselves and our role within it. In the face of a looming climate catastrophe and tightening political tensions, the supposed free thinking and academic world of university should be seen as a haven for us students to explore and express ourselves before we apply ourselves to making our own small slice of the world a hopefully better one.
Recently, however, the deplorable actions of a certain individual or select few individuals at UNBC have called into question the validity of that notion — that we as students are free to explore whom we want to be, whoever that might be. We hope this reaches the people or person who took it upon themselves; while you are entitled to your personal beliefs, as we all are in this free and democratic society, there are absolutely no excuses for the actions you took. And it’s not only that what you did is immoral, it’s frankly disappointing that such outdated beliefs about a person’s preference still persist, even at an institution like ours. Ultimately, it is sad. Sad not only for the people you targeted and made feel so unwelcome and even unsafe in our school, but more sad that you can’t think outside of yourself and look past your feelings or beliefs towards the valid problems and threats we face in the world.
The members of the UNBC League of Environmental Science Students would like to also take this opportunity to assure the Pride Centre that we stand with you, that we are allies, and we support what your organization does. It is incredibly important to feel a sense of belonging in the world, in your community and at school, whether you like different people or different science. We don’t all have to agree, but we need to get along so that we can all reach our potential. So, to whomever did this, shape up or ship out.”
League of Environmental Science Students
“The NHSS supports the Northern Pride Centre and state that it wishes to create a space where everyone can come learn, be a part of a community, in safety, without fear of being who they are. The actions of hatred should not be met with kindness and not more hatred. We stand with the Northern Pride Centre in solidarity.”
Northern History Student Society
“The atrocious act of vandalism that occurred all over the Pride Centre posters was a devastating act of hate. It’s sad to think that the UNBC community has individuals with that behaviour and mindset. On behalf of the UNBC Drama Club, I would like to send our support to the Pride Centre and anybody that was affected by the vandalism. The Drama Club fully supports the Pride Centre and the LGBTQ2S+ community. Hate crimes like this should not be tolerated at UNBC. The Drama Club will always be an accepting group for any person.”
UNBC Drama Club
“The South Asian Student Society (SASS) was disappointed to discover that the Northern Pride Centre had been vandalized. We fully support the Northern Pride Centre and our fellow LGBTQ2S+ students and faculty on campus, and in the greater Prince George community. Our campus has no space for hatred, hate crimes, or discrimination. We will not stand to see any of our LGBTQ2S+ community members discriminated against, and we hope that the University of Northern British Columbia takes action to bring the Northern Pride Centre justice.”
South Asian Student Society
“The Board of Alpha Pi Beta Sorority would like to express our sincere appreciation and support for the Northern Pride Centre at UNBC. Though we unfortunately do not live in a world free from hate, it is everyone’s job here at UNBC to make our school a safe space. The Northern Pride Centre is a vital piece of that framework in our community. We intend to show our utmost support for the LGBTQ2S+ community, and encourage all our fellow students and UNBC staff to do the same.”
Alpha Pi Beta
“The UNBC Greens club will always support the LGBTQ2S+ community, and were horrified to hear of the awful vandalism that occurred on campus on Pride Centre resources. We echo the Pride Centre in their statement that ‘this campus should remain safe for everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, and anything or everything in between.’ Period.”
UNBC Greens Club
“The UNBC Psychology Club believes it is important that everyone feel safe and welcome, this being said we stand behind and support the Northern Pride Centre, as it is important to have such a space on campus. We stand for equality between all people, no one should feel uncomfortable to be on campus, and there is absolutely no tolerance for hate or prejudice. The Psychology Club will now and always stand with the Northern Pride Centre in their journey to provide a safe place for all who are a part of the LGBTQ2S+ community.”
UNBC Psychology Club
“The executive of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship of UNBC stands in support of the Northern Pride Centre against this and all incidences of hate speech. UNBC must remain a safe place for LGBTQ2S+ students. Such acts of hatred are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated or condoned.”
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship of UNBC