The UBC pride flag burning: a timeline

February 10, 2016

“It’s been a rough day,” said Rachel Garrett, one of the coordinators of the Pride Collective. “[There’s been] a lot of stress. I don’t think any of us feel safe right now and that’s a really hard feeling to be going through.”

A rainbow flag had just been raised on the pole outside the Old SUB for UBC’s OUTweek. Pride Collective members noticed that the flag was missing on the morning of February 10 and contacted the UBC Equity and Inclusion Office to ask if they knew anything about the disappearance. Officers then found remnants of the scorched flag still attached to the pole.

After the fact, the AMS and Equity and Inclusion both released statements condemning the burning of the flag.

“UBC condemns this incident as an act of hate and in contravention of the values of equity, inclusion and respect deeply held by the university community,” read a statement signed by Interim VP Academic and Provost Anji Redish, VP Human Resources Lisa Castle, VP Students Louise Cowin and Associate VP Equity and Inclusion Sara-Jane Finlay on behalf of the university.

The wider Vancouver community also reacted to the incident. The City of Vancouver showed solidarity by flying a rainbow flag outside City Hall, also making the lights rainbow-coloured instead of their usual white. The Vancouver School Board also flew a rainbow flag.

Meanwhile, the Pride Collective received criticism for their decision to cancel the “Fuck the Cis-tem March” they had planned as a part of OUTweek.

“[Although] many folks outside of the collective would like to be in solidarity with us, we need our communities to listen to us and our needs at this time, rather than try to criticize and shame our decision to cancel the march,” said a statement they released at the time.

February 11, 2016

After receiving witness reports, the university announced that the person responsible for burning the flag had been identified.

“We believe this was an isolated incident. The university will continue to cooperate with the RCMP regarding their investigation,” said the statement released by Finlay.

Police were not investigating the incident as a hate crime. “We have nothing to say that it is a hate crime right yet. There’s no motivating factor yet to determine if it’d be a hate crime,” said Grainger. “It’s not a hate crime as far as we’re concerned at this point.”

April 22, 2016

In late April, 31-year-old UBC student Brooklyn Fink was charged by the Richmond Crown Counsel for burning down the flag, for mischief causing damage of property with a value of under $5,000.

After initially denying that she was the individual responsible for burning down the flag, Fink revealed some of her motivations to multiple news outlets. As a transsexual person, Fink called the flag a non-inclusive symbol and described the LGBT label as imposing sexual politics onto transgender individuals. 

The community was upset over the news, mostly viewing it not as a move of activism but one of “entitlement” and hate. 

May 18, 2016

At her first appearance in court, Fink pled not guilty to the mischief charge “in the interest of public health and safety.” She was representing herself at the time, but was urged to get legal representation from council and the judge presiding over her case.

The matter was to go to trial for three days in March 2017. At that time, Fink was also reportedly suspended from UBC.

December 6, 2016

Crown prosecutors dropped the mischief charge against Brooklyn Fink in advance of her next planned appearance in court on December 6. 

“The charges were stayed, as the Crown concluded that there was no longer a substantial likelihood of a conviction,” said Daniel McLaughlin, communications counsel for BC's Criminal Justice Branch, in an emailed statement to The Ubyssey.

For a few months before the charge was dropped, Crown Counsel looked for an individual or organization willing to step forward and claim ownership of the damaged property. However, both the Pride Collective and UBC’s Equity and Inclusion office declined.