To kick off Pride month, a local advocacy organization is spearheading a colourful initiative of joy to combat “a rise in visible hate” against the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Kelowna.
Advocacy Canada is a Kelowna-based Queer organization with a mission to support and uplift people in the Okanagan and beyond.
The organization is launching the Kelowna Billboard Project, an initiative focused on spreading positive messaging with a series of artistic signage placed around the city.
“While the project is a positive one, its motivation isn’t,” said Wilbur Turner, chairperson and founder of Advocacy Canada.
“Just this year in Kelowna, numerous protests have been held outside of Queer events, an anti-2SLGBTQIA+ billboard was put up, and hate-filled comments on any local news story involving the queer community numbered in the thousands. It’s disturbing.”
Local Indigenous Queer artist, Sarah Jones has been commissioned to create the imaging for the billboards that will support the message and theme developed by a focus group working on the project.
The 24-year -old artist grew up in the Syilx Nation and wants to give back to her community, creating positive change and combating hate in the place she calls home.
“I feel it is my duty to use my art to provide healing and hope to anyone who drives by and sees it,” said Jones.
To fundraise for the project, Advocacy Canada is giving businesses, organizations and individuals an opportunity to help sponsor the campaign. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up for donations and interested sponsors are encouraged to reach out to Advocacy Canada for a sponsorship package.
“This is a full-community effort,” said Turner.
The billboard project hopes to have the signs erected in Kelowna and Lake Country throughout June, which is Pride month.
More information on the billboard project can be found at advocacy-canada.lgbt/kelowna-billboard-project.
“This increase in hate makes that struggle so much worse. That’s why we’re creating this campaign. To show those struggling they’re far from alone,” explained Turner.