Volunteers from the community and SAGA painting Jessica Hanks’ fence July 26, 2020. Photo by Jessica Hanks.

Volunteers from the community and SAGA painting Jessica Hanks’ fence July 26, 2020. Photo by Jessica Hanks.

Wetaskiwin residents paint fence rainbow in response to homophobic letter

The Hanks painted their fence the colours of Pride with the help of community volunteers Sunday.

Last week Jessica Hanks was surprised to receive an anonymous letter following her Grand Prize win of the City of Wetaskiwin’s Canada Day decorating contest. The letter proclaimed that Hanks was representing “the ‘sick’ portion of our society”, in her decorations because Hanks had a Pride flag hanging on her fence.

Following immense support from the community online, Hanks decided to respond to the letter by displaying the Pride flag in a much grander way.

On one of Hanks’ Facebook posts regarding the letter her sister, Stephanie LeBrocq, commented her husband’s suggestion that Hanks should paint her fence rainbow to show the anonymous letter writer that their words could not deter the push for inclusivity in Wetaskiwin, and in Hanks’ own home.

The idea “took off like wildfire,” says LeBrocq. Community members volunteered to supply paint and come help transform Hanks’ fence into a massive display of Pride, July 26, 2020.

LeBrocq says that when she heard about the letter sent to her sister, “I was livid.” It struck home for her because, “my daughter is also bisexual,” she says. “It really hurt to see that people still have that kind of hate.”

Approximately 45 people filtered in during the early afternoon Sunday to lend a hand painting the Hanks’ fence. Everyone participating wore masks, social distanced as they painted, and used the hand sanitizer provided to follow AHS recommendations.

Included in the volunteer painters was Wetaskiwin City Councillor, Gabrielle Blatz Morgan. Blatz-Morgan read about Hanks’ experience on Facebook and knew that she wanted to get involved to show her support for the LGBTQ2S+ community.

No one should ever feel targeted or discriminated against because of who they are and who they love,” says Blatz-Morgan. “I wanted to show my support with the rest of the community.”

Blatz-Morgan is taking her mission for inclusivity in Wetaskiwin one step farther than her time painting at the Hanks’. At the July 20, 2020 City Council meeting, she introduced a motion for a Citywide inclusivity campaign.

Blatz-Morgan says that previous to the July 20 meeting, she had been receiving letters from First Nations residents of Wetaskiwin who have experienced forms of discrimination while out in public.

“I attended a pipe ceremony the following week to dedicate the new Peace Cairn location, and the elders mainly spoke about how we need to work harder on tackling racism in our community,” says Blatz-Morgan. “During this time was when Jessi Hanks received the letter discriminating against the LGBTQ2S+ community, and Chevi Rabbit had a terrible encounter with hurtful homophobic remarks at a local food establishment. After receiving this information, I knew I needed to do something.”

The proposed inclusivity campaign is aimed at providing education and awareness around discrimination of any kind, a way to make Wetaskiwin more inclusive. “I truly believe this will pave the way for positive change in Wetaskiwin,” she says.

One area that was a hub of inclusivity was Hanks’ back yard during the fence painting. Hanks says that the LGBTQ2S+ youth that volunteered, many with Sexual and Gender Awareness Wetaskiwin (SAGA), were thrilled to participate.

“You could just hear how happy they were,” says Hanks. “These kids worked really hard on it.” Hanks said that because of all the volunteers and the enthusiasm and hard work of the youth that the fence was finished in well under an hour.

Hanks’ says what meant the most to her that day was not only the vast community support she received, but the happiness that she could see in the youth there. She explains that it was enlightening to hear the stories from the kids about all the times when they felt they couldn’t be themselves, but there in Hanks’ yard they were excited to do just that, and to help paint something that represented them in a permanent way.

“My yard is super-charged,” says Hanks’ regarding the finished fence, its colours bold and bright. “My fence is an embodiment of love.”

Hanks donated the leftover paint to SAGA to use for future Pride projects, including the annual Pride crosswalk painting in Wetaskiwin.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Volunteers from the community and SAGA painting Jessica Hanks’ fence July 26, 2020. Photo by Stephanie LeBrocq.

Volunteers from the community and SAGA painting Jessica Hanks’ fence July 26, 2020. Photo by Stephanie LeBrocq.

As the photo was taken a rainbow lens flare appeared, which LeBrocq says felt kismet for the day. Photo by Stephanie LeBrocq.

As the photo was taken a rainbow lens flare appeared, which LeBrocq says felt kismet for the day. Photo by Stephanie LeBrocq.

Jessica Hanks with her daughter in front of the freshly painted Pride fence. Photo submitted by Jessica Hanks.

Jessica Hanks with her daughter in front of the freshly painted Pride fence. Photo submitted by Jessica Hanks.

Just Posted

Flora Northwest was taken to the Ermineskin residential school when she was six years old. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ermineskin residential school survivor: ‘It just brings me back to the cries at night’

Discovery in Kamloops of remains of 215 children a painful time for survivors

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer drops to 71 active cases of COVID-19

Province adds 127 new cases of the virus

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Orange shirts, shoes, flowers and messages are displayed on the steps outside the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 following a ceremony hosted by the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations in honour of the 215 residential school children whose remains have been discovered buried near the facility in Kamloops, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Alberta city cancels Canada Day fireworks at site of former residential school

City of St. Albert says that the are where the display was planned, is the site of the former Youville Residential School

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Most Read