Kingston Police are asking the public to share any information about the damage done to five Indigenous and Pride flags at the Queen’s University Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre.
Kandice Baptiste, director of the centre explained in a post on Facebook that the flags represented the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, Métis Nation, the Pride flag, Trans+ Pride flag, and Two Row Wampum that were hung in response to the racist and homophobic poster that was hung in a residence last October.
Police suspect the flags were slashed at the 144-146 Barrie St. location sometime between June 29 and 30. They also believe the vandalism was motivated by hate.
“This occurred on Barrie Street directly across from City Park and its sports field, (which are) often used by many and varied members of the Kingston community,” Det. Adam Slate, said in a news release. “If you have any knowledge and want to assist us in solving what we believe to be a crime based on racism and hate towards sexual orientation and gender identity then please don’t hesitate to contact us.”
Sgt. Steve Koopman, of the Community-Oriented Response and Engagement Unit, said they, Queen’s, as well as the centre considered sharing the photos a sensitive matter, but wanted to ensure the community knew how serious the situation is.
“We wanted the Kingston population to know there is little to no doubt this mischief was deliberately conducted and a symbolic affront to the Indigenous nations and LGBTQ2S+ communities whose flags were desecrated,” Koopman said. “Additionally, we hope this will appeal to the conscience of some people and spur them to come forward or provide information.”
The flags were replaced and temporarily hung inside the centre during a ceremony. Police said Four Directions has more permanent plans to affix the flags on top of the buildings.
“While individuals have shown an interest in donating towards the cost of replacing the flags, staff are directing people to instead donate to the Emergency Bursary Fund for Indigenous Students and the Chancellor Jim Leech Bursary for Indigenous Students,” said the release.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. Slate at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 613-549-4660, ext. 6366.
Tips can also be provided anonymously by calling the Kingston Police general number at 613-549-4660, ext. 0, and asking to remain anonymous and referring to occurrence number 20-91627.
Police also shared community resources for those who may be struggling with the vandalism:
· Kingston Crisis Services: https://www.amhs-kfla.ca/programs-services/crisis/
· Big White Wall: https://www.bigwhitewall.com/in-crisis/?lang=en-ca
· First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Crisis Line: https://indigenousto.ca/first-nations-and-inuit-hope-for-wellness-helpline-telephone-services-mental-health-helpline/
· Good to Talk: https://good2talk.ca/
· Empower Me: https://www.queensu.ca/studentwellness/empower-me
· Office of Indigenous Initiatives (Elder support): https://www.queensu.ca/indigenous/
· Cultural Counsellor, Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre: email@example.com