Two different rallies gathered at B.C.’s Legislature in Victoria on Canada Day, but neither was there to celebrate the country’s birthday.
One event, called Resist Canada 153, was “created in collaboration by a number of community members for the purpose of celebrating our collective resistance as Black and Indigenous peoples – resistance against assimilation, genocide, white supremacy and all other forms of colonialism,” reads the description on Facebook.
A poem one of the speakers is sharing. Will post when I find out her name. pic.twitter.com/MfwBO8LoBR
— kendra crighton (@kendracrighton) July 1, 2020
A banner reading ‘Decolonize KKKlanada’ provided a backdrop on the steps of the Legislature where people shared stories and experiences about racism and colonization in Canada.
“I guess folks were misinformed about what we’re celebrating today – we’re not celebrating unity and freedom and rights under the Canadian state; we’re celebrating our collective relationship and resistance as Black and Indigenous people and those that stand in solidarity with that idea,” said organizer Kati George-Jim to a cheering crowd.
The other rally, Unify the People, was smaller in size, with speakers set up near the Queen Victoria statue.
Many of the attendees at the gathering did not wear masks. A number of the signs seen called into question the validity of the pandemic. One protester, who did not wish to give his name, used a viral conspiracy theory video that was pulled from social media platforms for spreading false information, to back up his points.
Selma Arale, who also organized a people-less Black Lives Matter protest in Centennial Square, spoke to the crowd and questioned what was being celebrated on Canada Day.
“Are we celebrating its Indigenous peoples? Are we celebrating the POC that live on this land?,” she asked the crowd.
“No, we’re not. We’re celebrating the rape, the genocide, all of the disgusting things that happened and they weren’t that long ago.”
Canada Day has taken a different tone this year as the pandemic disallows for large gatherings while 2020 has quickly become one of reckoning for systemic racism both in Canada and across the 49th parallel.
In Vancouver, an anti-Canada Day march is set to start Wednesday afternoon outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery. The event is being hosted by Idle No More, an Indigenous-led group, and intend to “gather to honour all of the lives lost to the Canadian State.”
According to the Facebook event, roughly 600 people say they plan to attend.
During Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Canada Day address he said the success of the country is because of its people, particularly those who strive to make the country a place of peace, equality and compassion.
– With files from Ashley Wadhwani