Squamish Nation unveils rainbow crosswalk

It might have been an overcast day, but you could still see a rainbow.

Squamish Nation revealed its new rainbow crosswalk located at Welch Street and Capilano Road during an unveiling ceremony held Friday.

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“I think it’s the change that we’ve wanted for a really long time,” said Orene Askew, a Squamish Nation council member who was there for the unveiling on Oct. 4.

The event was attended by Squamish Nation council, as well as West Vancouver Mayor Mary-Ann Booth, District of North Vancouver councillors, North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma, and others.

The North Shore got its first public rainbow crosswalk after the City of North Vancouver unveiled its own addition at the intersection of Lonsdale Avenue and 14th Avenue in August.

Squamish Nation’s rainbow crosswalk will serve as a visual display of community support and acceptance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit (LGBTQ2) people, according to Askew.

“I’m two-spirited and every time I drive by I have the biggest smile on my face,” said Askew.

Two-spirit, according to Askew, is an important part of some Indigenous cultures, and describes First Nations people who might identify as having both a masculine and feminine spirit.

“Council agreed this is something we want in the community, and it happened,” said Askew. “The fact that North Van has done it as well, I feel like we’re all on the same page about being inclusive, which is really great.”

In August, Askew, who also DJs under the moniker DJ O Show, was the first-ever Squamish Nation member to be named a grand marshal of the 2019 Pride Parade in Vancouver.

Askew, who grew up in North Vancouver, said the installation of Squamish Nation’s new rainbow crosswalk is a huge first step, but there was still more to be done.

“For me that’s one of the things I want to do in life – help our members be more comfortable being who they are. This rainbow crosswalk is a start to represent that,” said Askew.

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