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“It made me cry,” pride president says of new rainbow crosswalks

Two pride-coloured crosswalks were unveiled by the city on Wednesday – just two weeks before the annual NWT Pride festival.

The crosswalks, which are painted in rainbow colours, are in front of City Hall at 49 Avenue and 52 Street.

News of the crosswalks was shared on Facebook by the city, in which they thank the public works division for making the painting possible.

“When I saw the city’s post on Facebook, it made me cry,” said Jackie Siegel, president of NWT Pride.

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The city’s Facebook post unveiling the crosswalks.

Rainbow colours have been a symbol of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or questioning (LGBTQ) movement for years, after San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker designed what is believed to be the first modern gay pride flag in 1978.

The flag contained eight stripes, each a different colour with its own symbolism. Pink was for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for the human spirit.

Nearly 38 years after the first pride colours were conceived, Mayor Mark Heyck says the colours are now being used to show Yellowknife’s tolerance.

“The rainbow crosswalks are a symbol of Yellowknife’s inclusivity, tolerance and welcoming nature,” said Heyck.

The city had discussed the idea for months, after members of the community made the suggestion to city council.

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In the end, the intersection in front of city hall was chosen based on logistics and more importantly, because of the proximity to the plaza.

“It’s symbolic that it’s right in front of city hall and one of our most popular public gathering destinations Sombe K’e Civic Plaza,” said Heyck.

For Siegal, the visibility of pride and LGBTQ people is important, with the new crosswalks serving as a bright symbol for Yellowknife.

“It was something that spoke to me deeper – to see that the city I live in supports me,” said Siegel. “We didn’t need to ask for this.”

The city wasn’t able to provide a cost for the project.

NWT Pride kicks off August 4 at The Raven with Queerlesque – a burlesque and cabaret-style performance.

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