SASKATOON – Elisha Muembo was only two years old at the time, but he still remembers hearing gun shots in his home community in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Now living in Saskatoon, Muembo shared his story with a group of students marking International Day for the Elimination of Racism.
Muembo and his brother were playing with an inflatable ball when it rolled out of their home and into the street. It landed at the feet of a militia group seeking to topple the Congolese government.
The soldiers opened fire.
“I was frozen. I was like, ‘what’s going on?’ You know, I was a kid. No one had ever told me about guns, bullets, people dying,” Muembo said.
Muembo’s nanny shielded him and his brother from the gunfire and later helped them escape the conflict-stricken country.
He hopes his speech at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) inspired the elementary students to love each other, value their lives and look past appearances.
After listening to presentations, kids handed out buttons and asked people at the U of S to do a positive act for another person.
Jayden Szankar, a Grade 7 student at Brunskill School, hopes giving pins will make people reconsider racist words or acts.
“It’s really hurtful. Some people who do it don’t like it in general. They do it because it’s cool,” Szankar said.
WATCH: Flash mob gives MMIW a voice
Grade 7 and 8 students from St. Mary’s Wellness and Education Centre commemorated the day at the U of S with a silent flash mob for missing and murdered indigenous women.
“It’s important to give them a voice back, so their families will be happy,” said St. Mary’s student Khyle Refuerzo.
On March 21, 1960, police in South Africa shot and killed 69 people at a peaceful protest against Apartheid. In 1979, the United Nations proclaimed March 21 the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.