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Resident steps up to cover remaining cost of Rainbow Crosswalk

September 11, 2020   ·   0 Comments

As a father of three, Dan Kagan has raised his kids to believe that everyone is equal and important and that love ultimately trumps hate.

It is a philosophy he and his wife try to live by every day, and now it is a philosophy that has resulted in a tangible reminder for the community at large.

Last week, following an anonymous donation made earlier in the summer to help make Aurora’s Rainbow Crosswalk a reality, Mr. Kagan has stepped up to the plate with a donation of $2,600 to cover the remaining balance of the new Yonge and Wellington landmark, which was unveiled last month.

As a result, the Rainbow Crosswalk’s entire price tag of $12,600 has been completely covered by private donation.

“We’re seeing a rise in intolerance and I don’t know if it is due to COVID or people just starting to become a lot more vocal on social media and other media with just about everything from racial intolerance to bad attitudes towards different sexual orientations, I thought right now in the Town of Aurora… it is such an important statement to let everyone know that this is a home for all and a place where everybody can feel safe,” Mr. Kagan tells The Auroran.

Indeed, the strong community reaction to the Rainbow Crosswalk on social media following its initial proposal and its completion in August spurred him to reach out to Mayor Tom Mrakas to see how he could help.

“There seemed to be a lot of pushback from the taxpayers that they didn’t think it was the best use of taxpayer money and so on and at that point I reached out to Tom directly to see if it would be easier through private donations because it is such a big deal to me. With the overall representation of what it is, I said if money is standing in the way I would be happy to get involved with whatever denomination you need.”

It is a big deal to him simply because he’s a dad, he says. His children have friends who are members of the LGBTQ community and it is an issue that hits close to home. Before making his donation, he says they sat down as a family to discuss the contribution.

“Let me state this: the negativity [on social media and elsewhere] wasn’t necessarily around the crosswalk itself, but the funds being put forth for the crosswalk where residents felt their tax dollar can go further elsewhere and they felt, at this time, it wasn’t something they felt needed to be done, nor was it something that they felt they should have to pay for it. When I made the decision to get involved financially – and I have always been involved emotionally, I sat my kids down and explained to them why I felt it was so important. I felt, for them, that it means a lot as a symbol of inclusion.

“They all embraced it and they all agreed. My wife and I always brought up our children to agree that everybody is important; we’re an inclusive family and we bring people up to love not hate and this was just an opportunity to get out in front of it and put some financial support out there so people can see we wanted to be a part of this.”

He became a part of it last week, meeting with Mayor Mrakas in Council Chambers to formally present the donation.

“Dan’s support for Aurora’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity, and his donation in support of York Region’s first Rainbow Crosswalk is a testament to our community’s proud history of being welcoming and accepting of all,” said Mayor Mrakas in a statement.

Looking back, Mr. Kagan says he hopes his donation will encourage people to “open up their minds and their hearts to the things that just might not be the norm for them” and “educate themselves.”

“If my investment does that, I think it is money well spent,” he says.

“It is not about the financial investment, it is about getting behind something that helps to send a message back to the broader community that we care, that we want to make this place that we live in an open-arms-for-all and now more than ever because after we saw the crosswalk go up, less than 24 hours later it was vandalized. As a community, and even though we’re sheltered from the larger ecosystem in the GTA and considered a smaller town, we’re growing up very fast and cultural diversity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, always leaves a window open for bullying, abuse and so on. The more we get ahead of this and the more we educate, especially the youth that are growing, the more we can kind of beat out hate from the minds of people that are either being taught wrong or are reading the wrong materials.”

By Brock Weir



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