News / Edmonton

'Disturbing and unsettling:' Edmonton resident troubled by return of homophobic flyers

For the last two months, Janis Irwin has been finding hateful flyers posted on bus shelters in her neighbourhood

Alberta Avenue resident Janis Irwin said she was disturbed by homophobic flyers posted throughout her neighbourhood in May, prompting her to tear then down. But recently, they came back.

Omar Mosleh/Metro

Alberta Avenue resident Janis Irwin said she was disturbed by homophobic flyers posted throughout her neighbourhood in May, prompting her to tear then down. But recently, they came back.

The first time Janis Irwin found a homophobic flyer stapled to the side of a bus shelter in her Alberta Avenue neighbourhood back in May, she dismissed them as “ridiculous”.

She ripped them down, only to have them reappear this week on 118 Avenue. That's when she got angry.

“I took a step back and recognized that if I were a young person waiting for the bus that morning, and I came across that message and perhaps I’m struggling with my sexual identity … this can be very hurtful and damaging,” she said.

“Which is why we need to take action.”

The flyers cite bible scripture and say “the sin of homosexuality will destroy Canada.” They also list the contact information of several churches and urge readers “Repent for your sins”.

Irwin, who is gay, took to social media to ask Edmontonians to tear down the flyers, and also alerted the city, Edmonton Transit Service and Edmonton Police Service.

“It’s quite disturbing and unsettling,” she said. “We know this isn’t our city, we’re a loving city and this is a very small minority that’s expressing this opinion.”

An example of one flyer Alberta Avenue resident Janis Irwin found posted to a bus shelter in her neighbourhood. She calls the discovery

Courtesy / Twitter

An example of one flyer Alberta Avenue resident Janis Irwin found posted to a bus shelter in her neighbourhood. She calls the discovery "quite disturbing".

She’s not sure why the person is targeting bus shelters, but said the flyers had been posted all along 118 Avenue along the main bus routes.

“This person has invested a lot of time and energy in covering the neighbourhood,” Irwin said.

Mill Woods Pentecostal Assembly, one of the churches listed in the flyers told Metro they have no affiliation with the literature.

“We had no knowledge of this … it’s not affiliated with us,” said Colette Sieb.

Irwin said she found it “disconcerting” that the flyers are listing churches that seemingly are unaware.

While she’s encouraged that friends and neighbours helped her tear some posters down, she said the messages are also proof that city still needs to fight hate and ignorance.

“What a great, unfortunate example of why we need Pride. Because these sorts of attitudes persist.”

Edmonton Police Service confirmed to Metro they received a complaint about the posters. The EPS Hate Crime division investigated and found it did not meet the threshold of a hate crime, which requires a criminal offence to have occured. 

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