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Local
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March connects border countries

More than 200 people marched to make a difference in Borderland last weekend.

Members and supporters of Borderland Pride, the LGBTQ2 organization for the Rainy River District in northwestern Ontario and Koochiching Country, physically crossed the bridge from the United States to Canada Saturday, but the effort stood for much more.

“This event is about building bridges between different types of communities and different groups of people within our communities,” said Douglas Judson, co-chair of Borderland Pride.

LGBTQ2A stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and two-spirit community and their straight allies.

Saturday’s Passport to Pride March, the signature event of PRIDE WEEK+, celebrated June 2-9, was the second time the effort was held in Borderland. As people arrived at Smokey Bear Park that morning, Judson said he was unsure of what to expect.

“We don’t know if there’s a novelty factor with the first time, or whether we’re building and will have more people than ever,” he said. “I would like to see this event be bigger than last year.”

In the end, the march appeared to attract more participation this year, with some returning faces and some new.

Angela Liedke, former Falls resident, attended the march with family and friends.

“I thought it was fantastic,” she said of the march. “Seeing people come together to celebrate and support the LGBTQ2 community was very special.”

Liedke, who now lives in the Twin Cities, said she never thought she’d see a Pride march hosted in her hometown.

“The organizers should be proud of the work they did to put on an event that celebrates love, acceptance, kindness and understanding,” she said. “I attended the event with a group of people from across the U.S., who were in town for a birthday celebration at the lake. Everyone had the best time. One of our group members said that it was the best Pride festival she has ever attended. There was talk of making the trip up for next year’s event.”

Judson believes there is a bright future for Borderland Pride and annual events surrounding the week-long celebrations.

“I see the future of Pride in small northern communities like this on both sides of the border,” Judson said. “We need to assert ourselves as welcoming places.”

Controversial vote

Prior to Saturday’s event, the week attracted controversy within local government.

A proclamation declaring PRIDE WEEK+ June 2-9, did not appear on the International Falls City Council agenda until a request to adopt a resolution was brought forth by city Councilor Harley Droba during the May 20 meeting. The motion to adopt a resolution with wording similar to that approved as a proclamation for 2018 passed on a 4-1 vote, with Mayor Bob Anderson voting no.

During that meeting, Anderson said he needed to better understand whether people are not feeling welcome or included in the community.

“If someone is discriminated against or harassed, I will be the first to move in and defend them,” he said. “I don’t want to see that in this community.”

But Anderson said there are a number of national issues and debates about which the city has not felt the need for proclamations or resolutions. He said some proclamations are intended to educate the public, but he didn’t feel that was the case with Pride Week.

The action motivated Caitlin Hartlen, “Morning Show” host for 93.1 The Border, to write a letter to the International Falls mayor urging him to speak with her about his feelings toward the queer community.

“I would love to clarify much of the misinformation with which you are currently operating,” she wrote. “I think one of the most significant issues that faces LGBTQ2 people as a whole, within the current confines of society, is the unwillingness of the other side to get to know us. People fear that which they do not know. So come, talk to us, see that we’re just like you. Living, breathing, hardworking human beings who only want the same fundamental rights afforded our heterosexual, cisgender counterparts.”

Hartlen’s letter was shared multiple times on social media sites, and she told The Journal Saturday she was overwhelmed by the support.

“I didn’t expect the reaction it got at all,” she said. “I know I’m probably not going to change the minds of people who are steadfastly against Pride, but I can at least educate the people around them and know they have somewhere they feel safe.”

She knows firsthand what it’s like to feel unsafe.

Before moving to Fort Frances just more than one year ago, Hartlen said she grew up in a small town and was bullied for a year after coming out in high school.

“It wasn’t a good place to be being a queer person,” she said.

Fearing her personal history would repeat itself, she was nervous to move to Fort Frances, but she said she was happy to report she has only felt welcomed by people on both sides of the border.

“I love it here,” she said.


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Outdoors
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DNR COs: Avoid contact with baby wildlife - helping can hurt

School is out, grass is growing and wild animals are giving birth.

It’s spring in Borderland, and with it comes concerns about wild young that have prompted Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officers to warn people against interfering in what comes natural.

Intervening in nature, they said, could lead to the death of the animal someone is trying to save.

For example, you come across a tiny spotted fawn laying at the foot of a pine tree. It’s there all day and you’re getting worried.

Has the little one been abandoned by its mother? Has its mother been killed?

Not likely, said Conservation Officers Darrin Kittelson and John Slatinski.

Instead, the doe and fawn are doing what comes naturally: Fawns, born in late May into early June, have little smell. When does need to eat, they instruct the fawn to lay down and stay where it is until she returns.

What’s not natural, however, is the human factor: Humans often want to save wild animals that appear to be suffering.

Key word is appear. Many times, people interfere with nature when they think an animal appears abandoned, or suffering, when it is not.

The conservation officers say they’ve had several calls from people who believe fawns, and other young animals, have been abandoned.

“Leave them where they’re at,” Kittelson said of “found” fawns or other young animals. “Walk away.”

He said the only circumstance that should involve people is if someone has seen the dead doe, such as in a vehicle collision that kills the doe.

“Then we would respond,” he said. “We’d take the fawn to a rehab(ilitation center).”

And while nature may seem cruel, Kittelson points to “The Lion King” and the circle of life.

This year, he said the COs are hearing of more fawns in the city limits, which may be caused by people feeding deer, intentionally or unintentional, while feeding birds.

He said people picked up a fawn near Rainy River in the city, because they’d found a dead deer nearby. The COs checked it out and found the deer had been dead for some time, and could not be the mother of the fawn.

“We put it in the woods, and went back the next day,” Kittelson said. “The fawn was gone, and we’re thinking mom came back.”

What to do?

Again, Kittelson stresses the right reaction to young animals: “Run. Don’t even approach.”

He asked that people not be tempted to come close for a photo of the really cute baby critters because at times, the fawn or other youngster may try to come to you believing you to be the mother, called imprinting.

“They don’t know fear until mom trains them more,” he said. “As they get older, they become more fearful.”

It’s even more important to avoid bear cubs, Slatinski and Kittelson said, adding mom bears are very protective.

“Mom doesn’t typically leave the cubs alone; she may wander off, but will be within sight or vocal communication,” Kittelson said.

An incident near Rainy Lake and the Tilson Bay Bog Walk has been called an attack in other media outlets, he noted.

“It sounded more like a mom maybe bluffing because a person got between the cubs and mom,” he said.

People should always be making some sound to avoid confronting animals while in the woods, he said, but should someone become aware they are between mom and cubs, he offered this advice:

“Make yourself as big as possible, make lots of noise, wave your arms. They may charge, but most of the time it’s a bluff. Back out relatively slowly whatever direction. But don’t head toward the cubs. Make sure the mom and cubs have a direct path to one another.”

The same idea applies to wolves and raccoon, he said.

He said even taking pictures can “open the door to the potential for interaction,” pointing to a report of a fox with kits.

And interaction with humans is often a recipe for death for wild animals.

“Sometimes when people think they’re doing good, like picking them up or starting to feed them, they get to the point they may not survive because of that,” said Slatinski.

He pointed to an incident last year when someone kept a fawn — illegal unless you are licensed — for three weeks before the COs found out about it.

“They said they’d never be able to be released back into the wild,” he said of the advice from the rehabilitation specialist, who is licensed to take care of specific wild animals.

In addition, the COs noted they’ve had calls about young eagles on the ground when wind has blown down the tree where their nest was located, or have even just fallen out of the nest as a parent instructs it how to fly.

“Avoid them,” Slatinski said. “Even if they’re on the ground, mom or dad will take care of them.”