Months after the flags at the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre were vandalized, the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies (SKHS) hung Pride and Indigenous flags in the windows of its building.
SKHS hung an Anishinaabe flag, a Haudenosaunee Two Row Wampum, a Haudenosaunee Confederacy flag, a Métis Nation flag, an LGBTQ+ Pride flag, and a Trans+ Pride flag on Sept. 17.
“As a School, we were distressed by the acts of vandalism directed at the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre over the summer and, more broadly, we’ve been seeking ways to reflect our School values in our physical environment,” Kyra Pykek, director of the SKHS, wrote in a statement to The Journal.
Pykek said the School of Kinesiology decided to hang the flags to show its support and solidarity with Four Directions and make a visible statement against acts of hatred and violence directed toward Indigenous and LGBTQ+ communities.
“We are committed to fostering a sense of belonging in SKHS for Indigenous, racialized, and LGBTQ+ students,” Pykek said. “It is our hope that the flags in our foyer will create a welcoming space in the School.”
She added that widespread support across the Queen’s community is important and individual units across campus finding their own ways to express support is a “key part of achieving that.”
“Through this gesture of support and solidarity with Four Directions, we also recognize that the burden of social justice and equity work is unequally felt,” Anna van der Meulen, SKHS undergraduate chair, told The Journal. “We heard 4D’s Director, Kandice Baptiste, when she wrote in response to the acts of vandalism this summer about being tired and deeply angry and frustrated.”
“She also wrote, ‘When we do this work, it comes with great responsibility and risk–it is time the Queen’s community begins to understand that risk.’”
Van der Meulen added that SKHS doesn’t want its act of solidarity to create more work for its colleagues at Four Directions through “renewed attention and requests for response” about the targeted violence that occurred over the summer.
Though the SKHS initiative was independently undertaken by the school, the University also confirmed that its plans to permanently install flagpoles at Four Directions in September is proceeding as scheduled.
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