Castlegar resident Joan Alexander is working to make the city more inclusive.

She’s a member of the LGBTQ-plus community and presented an educational delegation at the recent city council meeting.

“If there is work to be done that I’m a part of, then I will work with all councillors and the mayor and senior staff. I will ensure that all those around the council table are on board – this is the only way change will occur,” said Alexander.

Her presentation included details on human rights history in Canada, definitions and other important information. She felt council appeared to be very open to further education down the road, but what that looks like as of yet is still open.

“That can be as informal as conversation with members of this community. It can also be more formal such as structured anti-discrimination training,” said Alexander.

Her presentation also included information on a new Castlegar Pride committee that is looking to host an event in September of this year.

Alexander conducted a survey during the municipal election asking candidates about their values and beliefs around the LGBTQ-plus community.  Although not every one on council filled out the survey, Tuesday’s presentation served as a good reminder for Councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff.

“We need to strive to be inclusive and inviting and welcoming. We have to live what we say and so that just reassures me that we need to do better, we can do better now. That just gives us a little more skills and education on how to handle it in the future,” said Heaton-Sherstobitoff.

Heaton-Sherstobitoff has asked city staff to look into some regulations around Question Period after homophobic comments were made by a member of the community recently. At the time no one from council addressed the comments and Heaton-Sherstobitoff issued an apology on Facebook shortly after with a promise to do more. The mayor also issued a formal apology at the following council meeting.

“From a 10-15 minute presentation we definitely don’t know everything, but it’s an opportunity for us to be involved,” added Heaton-Sherstobitoff.

Since 2017 the Pride flag has been raised at City Hall, which also served as host for the Trans Day of Remembrance vigil. But, according to Heaton-Sherstobitoff there’s still “a long ways to go” to really embrace inclusivity as a city.

A slide during Joan Alexander’s presentation to council with more on the LGBTTIQQ2S community (Supplied by Joan Alexander, Photo credit Maggie Shirley)