ALBERTA

CFB Edmonton Pride Flag: Army Base Flies LGBT Symbol, First In Canada

06/07/2013 04:25 EDT | Updated 06/07/2013 04:34 EDT

It's a ceremony performed at every Canadian military base across the globe - a Canadian Forces member respectfully carries and hoists the Maple Leaf up mast to fly in the brisk morning air.

The procedure was slightly different on Friday morning at CFB Edmonton where, instead of the Canadian flag, a soldier hoisted up the Pride flag, that universal symbol of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities the world over.

The act made CFB Edmonton, which is the most populous army base in western Canada and is located in the heart of the country's conservative heartland, the first military base in the country to fly the rainbow flag in an official capacity.

That simple act was received with overwhelming pride and enthusiasm by Edmontonians, LGBT community members, as well as former and serving military members.

Social media was abuzz with congratulatory posts and messages of acceptance.

In a statement, Land Force Western Area said, "The Pride Flag raising at CFB Edmonton is a symbol to all members of the LGBT community, whether civilian or serving members, that the Canadian Armed Forces promotes principles of inclusiveness, equality and dignity."

Friday's moment came about after Master Warrant Officer John McDougall, who is stationed at CFB Edmonton and is a field medical unit Sergeant Major, put the request to fly the flag up the chain of command.

The request was quickly granted, said McDougall, but on Friday admitted he thought the answer would be something different.

McDougall said earlier that after years of putting his life on the line in faraway places such as Bosnia, Kosovo and Sierra Leone, being recognized and respected for who he is will be important.

"It is a big event that it is happening and for the first time we will have a Pride flag flying at the base," he said.

"That being said, in this day and age of tolerance, it shouldn't be a big issue."

-With files from CP.

CFB Edmonton Raises Pride Flag