About 1,000 people took to the streets of Fredericton today in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. Today’s action is one of many ongoing protests happening around the world following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man on May 25.
The rally began with participants kneeling, a symbolic action taken in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, at Fredericton City Hall. The participants then marched down Queen Street and up King Street, returning to City Hall to hear a number of Black people, many of them young, share their experiences with racism in Fredericton and beyond.
“My voice has been screaming for years and years and only today am I hearing that people are listening,” said Felomena Deogratsias, to applause. “Black Lives Matter have left your lips, you can no longer defy that. You have to remind yourself everyday to act.”
The rally speakers reminded participants that racism is not an American problem but that it is a problem in Canada and in Fredericton.
On May 27, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Black woman, fell to her death from a 24-story apartment building in Toronto during a visit from police. Reports, including accounts from her family, suggest the police were to blame for her death.
“Canada likes to buy into the façade of multiculturalism. That it’s so inclusive… But a lot of people don’t know about residential schools or Indigenous history or the part that Canada played in slavery,” said Husoni Raymond, an organizer of the event.
“People are not being hired for the colour of skin right here in Fredericton so the next time you hear that racism doesn’t exist here, I can tell you it does. We experience it on a day-to-day basis,” said Yusuf Shire, President of the New Brunswick African Association.
“Listen to racialized people when they tell you there is a problem and how you can help to be part of the solution. You can start by talking to your racist uncle or your racist aunt,” said Shannon Gumbs.
“We are a threat. We are a threat to all forms of oppression,” said Raymond.
The rally speakers chanted, “Black Lives Matter,” “Indigenous Women’s Lives Matter,” and “No Justice, No Peace!”
Yesterday, on June 1, approximately 350 people rallied in Moncton against racism.
Another rally in support of Black and Indigenous Lives Matter is occurring tomorrow, Wednesday, June 3 at 7:00pm at the NB Legislature. In Saint John, Black Lives Matter rally organizers are asking people to line King Street on Saturday, June 14 at 2:00pm.
Tracy Glynn is an editorial board member of the NB Media Co-op.
With files from Husoni Raymond.