As the capital region continues to grow as a hub for same-sex couples, one group in Aylmer is seeking further acceptance for LGBT couples and families in their own community.
Recently released census data shows that the number of same-sex couples—married and common-law—in Ottawa-Gatineau has increased by 15 per cent in the last five years.
There were 3,858 couples in 2016, up from 3,364 couples in 2011.
The rate rose higher than the 12.9 per cent increase in same-sex couples in all of Canada during that same period.
On the Quebec side of Ottawa-Gatineau, however, the number of same-sex couples rose at a slower rate of six per cent, compared to a 17.5 per cent increase of same-sex couples on the Ontario side.
The feeling that Gatineau is lagging behind Ottawa when it comes to LGBT visibility is partly why Stephanie Meunier and her friends decided to start the “Chalk Rainbow” event.
The seventh annual edition of the event took place on Saturday in Aylmer’s Parc Commémoratif, and brought people together to draw chalk rainbows and messages of support for Gatineau’s LGBT community.
“It was just us and our friends while we were in our last year of high school in Aylmer. We just wanted something to celebrate Pride at home. And especially in Aylmer, in French as well,” said Meunier.
“It was just to say that we’re here, and we just want to be visible for once.”
Meunier said it’s been great to see more people, and especially more families, come out each year.
She says she’ll still take part in Capital Pride festivities later this month, but it was important for her to bring a version of Pride to Gatineau as well.
“I do love Ottawa, and I do like going to Ottawa—but I’m a Francophone, and I also like my events to be in French,” said Meunier.
“I think it’s important because it breaks a sense of isolation for people who don’t live in greater areas, or who don’t have access to anglophone events.”
‘Sometimes we are invisible’
Bianca Nugent and her stepdaughter were also at Saturday’s event. She says it’s great that Ottawa-Gatineau has one of the biggest LGBT populations in the country, but there is still more work to be done in furthering the movement.