Edmonton base first Canadian military installation to raise LGBT pride flag

Edmonton base first Canadian military installation to raise LGBT pride flag

EDMONTON, Alberta — The rainbow pride flag was raised Friday for the first time on a Canadian military installation.

In a ceremony attended by senior military officers and civilian members of the LGBT community, the rainbow pride flag was raised at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, and will remain this week to coincide with Edmonton’s LGBT Pride Festival.

“It was history in the making, it was monumental,” said Master Warrant Officer John McDougall, speaking about the ceremony.

“It is a big deal that the flag is being raised for the first time at a military base. I think that’s part of the sign of the times and it’s a further reflection of the military’s inclusiveness and their diversity,” he told CBC News.

McDougall, 47, who made the request for the flag-raising a few weeks ago through the military chain of command, said times have changed since he joined the Canadian army as a private 23 years ago.

“When I first joined, I would never even consider telling anyone that I was gay. It just wasn’t macho,” he said. “I think it is a little naive to think there weren’t gay soldiers then, (but) the culture really didn’t lend itself to identify who you were.”

Watch a report from CBC News:

A spokesperson for the base indicated that there had been virtually no backlash over the flag’s presence. Navy Lieutenant Jessica MacDonald told CBC News that personnel assigned to the base which includes combat infantry and armoured units have been supportive.

“The flag-raising is really a symbol to all members of the LGBT community,” said Navy Lieutenant Jessica MacDonald. “Whether they are civilian or serving members, the Canadian Forces promotes principles of inclusiveness, equality and dignity.”
The ceremony was attended by the base commander, Lt.-Col. John Reiffenstein.

McDougall attended the ceremony with his partner of 18 years.

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