Rainbow flag at Iqaluit city hall not favoured by all, councillor says
“People tell me it is not an Inuit custom to be gay”
The raising of a rainbow flag alongside the Canadian, City of Iqaluit and Nunavut flags outside Iqaluit city hall on Feb. 10 does not have the approval of all Iqaluit residents, according to city councillor Simon Nattaq.
“This is very important. It will impact everybody when we are elected, and people of Iqaluit come to us with their concerns,” Nattaq told city council at a regular meeting, Feb. 11.
“I don’t ever recall that the raising of the rainbow flag was brought to council. I’m sure it had an impact on you, as it had an impact on me,” he said.
The city raised the multicoloured flag, which represents gay pride, equality and inclusiveness, at the request of Coun. Kenny Bell.
Major cities throughout Canada, including northern Canada’s two other territorial capitals, Yellowknife and Whitehorse, have raised it to protest anti-gay laws in Russia, where the winter Olympic Games are now underway.
Nattaq said some citizens disagreed with the city’s decision to raise it.
“People tell me it is not an Inuit custom to be gay,” he told council in his member’s statement.
Bell was quick to answer that the city has no procedures on the raising of flags, and noted that the administration agreed to raise it as soon as he requested.
“It is greatly appreciated,” Bell said. “The community really likes it.
“On that note, I would like to inform the few people that are talking to Coun. Nattaq that there are gay and lesbian people in every race. Not only Inuit, but white people, black people. It’s worldwide and there’s nothing wrong with it,” Bell said.
After other councillors made statements on different issues arising over the past two weeks, deputy mayor Mary Wilman, who chaired the meeting in Mayor John Graham’s absence, returned to the topic.
People of Iqaluit “have to be taught about some traditions that we don’t know about,” she said.
“Many people in Iqaluit are still living traditional lives. This is who we are.”