The Kelowna Pride Society continues to work with local law enforcement to offer members of the LGBTQ2S+ community places of refuge if they are ever in distress to await police arrival.
On Feb. 22, the Kelowna RCMP’s rollout of the ‘Safe Place Program’ was met with controversy. The Kelowna Pride Society expressed its disappointment in the program due to the lack of community inclusion in the program’s implementation. The RCMP recognized its misstep and apologized. Both parties agreed that in order to roll out the program effectively, it should have the input of the people it directly effects.
Since then, the Pride Society and RCMP have combined forces to determine the best way to accomplish their goals. A working group comprised of Pride Society board members, RCMP representatives and community members has met twice weekly to determine the best course of action.
“Many of the questions that were raised during Kelowna Pride’s townhall discussion on the program … especially those around the program’s authenticity and safety, have now been addressed by the working group,” said the Kelowna Pride Society in a release.
Other focuses that the group has discussed include:
• The extent of training provided to both the RCMP officers and businesses/organizations who sign up for the program
• Ways to evaluate, assess and sustain the program in the long term
• Opportunities to best support our LGBTQ2S+ community members
• The need for ongoing collaboration and relationship between the RCMP and the Pride community in Kelowna
While the Kelowna RCMP has put the program on pause for now, the working group’s main priority is to collaborate with the RCMP to have it running again. At present, there is no set relaunch date; however, the group aims to have the program implemented as soon as possible.
“As a group, we acknowledge that this will not be an easy venture, and we are not striving for perfection. However, we do believe that, together, programs such as these can exist without additional harm, while bringing positive changes to the LGBT2Q+ and BIMPOC communities,” said Fahmy Baharuddin, director of education and LGBT2Q+ youth initiative with the Kelowna Pride Society.
Click here to sign up if you are interested in being part of the working group.