While smiles and laughter rippled over the flow of rainbow costumed folks making their way along 9 Avenue in the 2015 Pride Parade, in another part of Calgary, a rainbow painted peace pole in the garden of the Church of the Cross was pulled out of the ground and spray painted black.
The Peace Pole was created by a group of Grade 9 and 10 students earlier in the year and given it as a gift to their faith community as part of their religious formation.
The pole had “May peace prevail” in Spanish, French, and English (the three major official languages of our continent), and on the fourth side “All are welcome here”. The pole was painted in rainbow colours representing peace.
Hannah, Patrick and Heather don’t know why the Peace Pole was vandalized. It is hard for them to see it as an act of random vandalism because it happened on the day of the Pride Parade.
The group has determined they will reinstall the peace pole and put up three more peace poles representing their intention to stand firm in their commitment to peace for all people including those who are part of the LGBTQ community. Along with four peace poles, all painted with rainbow colours, will be a plaque with the following statement in the voice of the pole.
I am a Peace Pole
I was grounded in the earth by 5 youth who believe in peace between all peoples
However not everyone believes that
I stand in the face of adversity
I was torn down and my message was covered up by vandalism
You see when you stand up for something there are going to be people who fight back.
But when you fall down and have the strength to stand up again you are even stronger than before
My scars will forever show but my values shine brighter
I have been joined by three others who share my vision
Splashed with colour we stand tall for what we believe in
Peace be with you
Betty Jane Hegerat is a member of the Church of the Cross and also a mentor of the young people. She sees some similarities between what the group has done and the Japanese art of Kintsukuroi of repairing broken pottery with gold, making it more beautiful at the same time. In the “Voice” of the peace pole,Hannah, Patrick and Heather have indeed arrived at something more beautiful than what first stood in the garden.