Officers showed their love for the Church-Wellesley Village on the eve of the International Day Against Homophobia Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) by helping launch a mural installation.
The #VillageLoveTO mural is intended as a place for passers-by to stop for a selfie and express their love for the vibrant community and promote a safe and inclusive environment.
LGBTQ2+ Community Consultative Committee (LGBTQ CCC) Co-Chair Supt. Chris Kirkpatrick says the Toronto Police officers aim to support the community at all levels.
“It’s very important for us to demonstrate we’re building trust at the grassroots level,” said Kirkpatrick. “We’re committed to demonstrating to the community that we’re here whether it be our Neighbourhood Officers, through our Primary Response Officers or through the Community Consultative Committee, we’re going to be here and we’re here to work with everybody.”
The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia was created in 2004 to draw the attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexuals, transgender, intersex people and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics. It is marked on May 17 each year.
Church-Wellesley Business Improvement Area Chair Chris Hudspeth, who is also a member of the LGBTQ2+ CCC, says the mural has been planned for some time but a recent incident on the same corner where a street preacher denounced homosexuality as sinful underlined the need for the message. Police were called and the man was asked to leave after a confrontation with passers-by.
“We’re taking over this space as positive space not as hateful space,” said Hudspeth, who also noted that rumours in the community that police didn’t respond right away because the incident was in the Gay Village are not true. The response had been delayed because of a priority one call in the area and rush-hour traffic.
“We want a healthy and positive space for everyone. We do a lot of work with police, especially Neighbourhood Officers. We work hand-in-hand with them everyday and the community loves the Neighbourhood Officers.”
Supt. Peter Moreira, of 51 Division, says his officers are committed to creating a safe space.
“We’re here to show unity for the community and to promote this as a positive safe space where we can all gather,” he said.
Church-Wellesley Village Neighbourhood Officers Julie Moureau, Peter Roberts and Robert Chevalier also joined in the event to celebrate the mural installation.
“We’re showing the community we’re one the community, we police the community but we’re also part of the community,” said Chevalier, whose job it is to police the Village, which includes building partnerships and relationships with everyone in the community. “I feel it’s an important message because it’s a positive message. If we spread positivity, that feeling can grow.”
One Properties donated the space and printing of the mural.
Graphic Designer Darryl Mabey was commissioned to create the mural to fit in with his other work that surrounds the property currently awaiting redevelopment. He wanted to create a simple patterned background that would be fun to share in selfies as well as resonate a positive message.
“You can never be promoting love and tolerance and acceptance enough.”