An Indigenous owned shopping centre in Chilliwack is sporting rainbow crosswalks to show it is an inclusive community.
Two crosswalks were painted Monday evening in the Eagle Landing Development. Additionally, two more rainbow crosswalks are planned at Vedder Crossing Plaza.
“We’ve been quietly working on it for just over a year,” said Squiala Chief Dave Jimmie, president of the Ts’elxweyeqw Tribe.
He said they were first approached by Skowkale community member Shayla Hall to consider the idea of a rainbow crosswalk.
“And so we first brought it to our Chief and Council meeting for approval. Then we brought it to our Eagle Landing Partners for support and all are on board.
“I then brought it to our Ts’elxweyeqw Tribe table about a month ago and informed the chiefs that we would be installing them. Tzeachten then expressed interest to do the same.”
Since they were installed on Squiala First Nation land — and the planned Vedder Crossing Plaza ones on Tzeachten First Nation land — they did not require any permits or approval from Chilliwack.
At the same time, a downtown business owner recently started a community-based drive to have a rainbow crosswalk painted on Wellington Avenue at Mill Street. After collecting 750 signatures and more than 100 letters of support from citizens and businesses, 15 supporters walked to city hall on Friday and hand delivered the rainbow binder to Mayor Ken Popove.
But the local First Nations initiative is unrelated.
“The city does not have jurisdiction over our lands so we are free to paint them to demonstrate our support for being an inclusive community. I have also recently lost a friend from the LGBTQ community so this is truly near and dear to my heart,” said Jimmie.