Celebrating diversity

The Whistler Pride and Ski Festival, Whistler mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden and MLA Jordan Sturdy unveiled two new rainbow crosswalks in Whistler Village last week.

The colourful additions to the road are meant to serve as a symbol of acceptance and a celebration of diversity in our mountain town. They also earn Whistler bragging rights as the first ski resort with the walkways.

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It is certainly cause for celebration. At times it seems Whistler is mostly made up of one demographic — young, straight, white and fit. At least, that’s the most visible group. But communities with diversity are the ones that thrive — they’re the most vibrant, interesting and alive.

A crosswalk might just be a crosswalk, but displayed smack-dab in the middle of the Village, it also sends a message to the over two million visitors to the resort each year.

It immediately advertises that Whistler has an LGBTQ community that is celebrated, welcome and part of our fabric.

As Dean Nelson, CEO of Whistler Pride, highlights every year before the festival, there are still places in the world where it’s dangerous to come out, where diversity is not celebrated. To that end, the new crosswalks can play an educational role to visitors — immediately advertising the type of community we aim to be.

While, thankfully, instances of governments embracing diversity are no longer groundbreaking — rather, at least in Canada, it’s expected — it still means something for officials to demonstrate acceptance in this type of capacity.

As mentioned, Whistler also earned bragging rights for being the first ski resort with the crosswalks. The distinction is important, considering ski resorts aren’t necessarily known for tackling social issues. Perhaps Whistler — as a leader in the ski and snowboard industry — can serve as an example to others.

It’s important to take a moment to celebrate this addition to the Village, but it’s also an opportunity to think about what else we can do to make Whistler a more inclusive place for a wide variety of people. That, of course, starts with having a conversation with people who are different than us to learn more about what would make them feel more comfortable, accepted and included at home.

We should also ensure that Whistler is a place where people feel comfortable bringing ideas — like the crosswalks — forward. The more we can incorporate diversity into our growing town, the better off we’ll be in the future.

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