Trees downtown Maple Ridge have undergone a transformation.
The trunks of more than 100 trees in Memorial Peace Park and along 224 Street between Dewdney Trunk Road and Lougheed Highway are now the colours of red, blue, yellow, purple, orange, and green.
Members of UPlan, a sub-committee of the Youth Planning Table, headed by school board trustee Kim Dumore, were busy at work on Monday, June 13, wrapping the trunks in the Pride colours in honour of Pride month.
Around 12 to 15 people spent from about noon to 4 p.m. wrapping the trees in the colourful plastic ribbons, including: members of the Youth Planning Table, City of Maple Ridge staff, and a representative from PLEA.
The display will be up until PLEA Community Services Society’s Pride in the Park celebration on July 16.
Hudson Campbell, 20, a member of UPlan said there were more than 12 youth who took part in some aspect of the project over the past month or two.
“It was a great group,” he said.
The idea, he said, came from the previous two years where members of the Youth Planning Table decorated downtown Maple Ridge for those students graduating from secondary school, who were not able to properly celebrate due to the COVID-19 health restrictions.
This year, with graduating students being able to attend their graduation events once again, the youth group wanted to spotlight something different.
That’s when the group realized there was a lack Pride celebrations in the city.
“I’ve lived in Maple Ridge my entire life and I can’t remember ever having a Pride event or decorating for Pride month – and we obviously have people living in Maple Ridge that would identify in the LGBTQ community,” said Campbell.
“So it’s really important to make sure those people feel seen and heard and that we are trying to include as many people as we can in our community,” he noted. “I just think it’s really important to showcase the diversity that we have in our community.
In addition to wrapping the trees, the group also approached downtown businesses and asked if they would spotlight local and national LGBTQ activists in their storefront windows – activists like Dan Levy, Gigi Gorgeous, Tegan and Sara, and Vancouver-based drag performer Carrie Dawn, who will also be performing at the local PLEA event.
Carter Hugill, 18, who will be graduating this year from Maple Ridge Secondary School, is also a member of UPlan who took part decorating downtown.
He explained that each of the businesses will display a poster featuring one activist that will include a biography of that individual.
The poster will also have a Snapchat filter that people can scan and they can take a picture with the pride theme and the UPlan logo.
“We had a couple members of the LGBTQ+ community work with us to actually be able to stage this,” explained Hugill, saying that it was important to him to show other members of the community that people care and want to make a difference.
“And help everyone feel included,” he said.
Hugill said the importance of displaying the Pride colours during the month of June is really important in a community like Maple Ridge, that falls into a demographic that “you wouldn’t consider to be particularly inclusive”.
“It’s a small town, it’s not Vancouver, it’s kind of nestled between two other cities, there’s a lot of farmland out here,” he said.
However, he said, as they were working on the display, people would come up to them and ask about the project.
“Every single person had a positive reaction to it,” he said. “That’s so fantastic.”
He added one of the goals of a project like this in a small town like Maple Ridge, is to challenge to misconceptions and to say there is inclusivity where ever you go.
“It really just shows everybody that no matter where you are, there’s support,” he said.
PLEA’s Pride in the Park takes place 11-3 p.m. on July 16 in Memorial Peace Park, downtown Maple Ridge.
Organizers are looking for local vendors to sell Pride-themed items at the event.
Those interested can contact ARoss@plea.bc.ca.
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