A Party City employee in Canada who received a homophobic Valentine from a coworker last month recently received overdue holiday wishes -- directly from the Canadian Prime Minister.
This February, Degas Sikorski, a 20-year-old gay man who lives and works in Edmonton, Alberta, stopped into his work after nearly a month of being left off the schedule. When he arrived, Sikorski discovered that a supervisor had made Valentine's Day gifts for the staff, but that his had been defaced with a hateful slur. "Faggot, you are not getting shifts for a reason," his card read.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, however, had another message for Sikorski -- one of support. "Know that your friends outnumber the haters by millions, and I am one of your friends," Trudeau wrote.
The message was delivered in a card sent by Randy Boissonnault, the Minister of Parliament for Edmonton Centre, who met with Sikorski last week. Boissonnault, who is gay, reached out to colleagues and fellow legislators in the Canadian government to send their well-wishes to Mr. Sikorski.
"As soon as I explained the story, people were like, 'Where's that paper? Where's the card? How do I sign?'" Boissonnault told Canada's Global News.
That enthusiasm was palpable in the many heartwarming responses from government officials. "Dear Degas, Love is love!" wrote parliamentarian Sherry Romanado. "You will always be our Valentine!"
After the heartbreaking incident, Sikorski said that the outpouring of love has filled him with hope. "Living in Edmonton, so far away from Ontario, you never picture hearing anything personal from the prime minister," he told Global News. "To know that he has my back is beautiful."
Since the incident went viral last month, Sikorski reiterated on his Facebook page that the homophobic sentiments expressed in the card "[do] not reflect the company" he works for. "This is one person of many," he wrote. However, Sikorski later posted that he has yet to receive an official apology from Party City for the actions of its employees, despite a meeting with the company's human resources team.
Since that time, Sikorski left Party City and accepted a job with Starbucks. A manager at the local coffee chain sent Sikorski a message on Facebook after reading about his story on the Internet.
Trudeau's own response to the incident underlines his outspoken support of LGBT people since being elected the head of Parliament last October.
Last week, the 44-year-old liberal prime minister reinforced his support of marriage equality in a visit with President Barack Obama. "No matter what province or state you live in, you have the freedom to marry the person you love," Obama stated.
Trudeau reiterated the president's message about human rights at the White House:
"We remain united in a common purpose -- allies, partners, and friends as we tackle the world's great challenges. Whether we're charting a course for environmental protection, making key investments to grow our middle class, or defending the rights of oppressed peoples abroad, Canada and the United States will always collaborate in partnership and good faith."
Check out the original Facebook post of the valentine card featuring Trudeau's message here.