Police investigating after Pride flag at Ontario high school trampled and burnt

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Waterloo Regional Police are investigating incidents at a Kitchener high school in which a Pride flag was trampled and burnt, and rocks were thrown at LGBTQ students.

Calling the event “a hate-motivated incident,” police said it took place Sept. 21 at Eastwood Collegiate high school in Kitchener at about 2:20 in the afternoon.

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“A group of youths between the ages of 15 and 17 damaged a Pride flag, which was taken from Eastwood Collegiate, by stepping on it and then setting it on fire,” police said in a statement, adding: “No physical injuries were received as a result of this incident.”

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Jeewan Chanicka, Director of Education for the Waterloo Region District School Board, posted a message on the school’s web site. “Yesterday we learned of a very concerning incident that occurred at Eastwood Collegiate Institute in Kitchener,” he wrote. “At this point, it is alleged that one group of students burned, then trampled a Pride Flag, finally throwing it at a group of students who identify as members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.”

He added in a video message: “This is a heartbreaking reminder of how we must educate all students about the historic and contemporary impact of anti-2SLGBTQIA+ hate and violence. Each of us plays a role in supporting students, families and staff who may have been harmed by hate speech or other acts of intolerance.”

He continued: “To all our staff, students and families who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+ you belong here.”

Police Constable Brad Hickey told CTV News: “We take these investigations very seriously. We have a dedicated team of investigators from both our general investigations unit and our equity, diversity and inclusion unit who are actively investigating. We’re really pleading to members of the public and the student population to please come forward with any information or video footage that they may have.”

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Spectrum Waterloo, a local LGBTQ organization, also made a statement: “Spectrum strongly condemns this demonstration of hate,” it said. “2SLGBTQIA+ youth in our community deserve safety and respect. Queer and trans people have always been here and will always been here. Waterloo Region is no place for hate.”

The incident comes a day after country-wide rallies against what protestors referred to as the teaching of “gender ideology” in schools.

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