Black Lives Matter rallies have been taking place throughout North America and around the world in the wake of Black people dying in police custody in the United States.
Now, Okanagan residents had an opportunity to join the masses in taking a stand against racism with a rally that was held on Friday at Stuart Park.
“It’s important for me to be down here today because of the oppressions that has been going on in the whole world,” said Jarret Young.
Jarrett Young, a Kelowna protester, spoke to the crowd about his personal experiences with racism in the city.
“I’ve been called the n-word and chased out of parties,” Young said to the crowd of protesters.
He brought a sign outlining how the term ‘all lives matter’ is not the right approach.
“They are right, all lives matter but all lives can’t matter until they all matter equally and right now, all lives do not matter equally,” said Young.
The rally in Kelowna was organized by a group of students as they wanted to show their support for the cause, and also wanted to give people of colour a chance to speak.
“We wanted to host this rally … to commemorate those who have lost their lives to police brutality as well as to bridge the gap between division and to create unity and black community visibility,” said organizer Paige Harrison.
One of the protesters was a former elementary school teacher.
She says to eradicate racism, society needs to better educate children on what racism is early on.
“Children don’t know colour, they don’t see colour, children just love everybody,” said Teresa May Teschner.
“Prejudice is learned, racism is learned, children only hear from their families, so when they grow up they don’t see colour unless they were taught that,” Teschner continued.
“We have to teach them from a very young age, so if it’s taught in the school system, children can learn to accept each other and that we are really all one race. The human race.”
The rally included participants from all ethnic backgrounds, and all came together for the common cause of people against racism.
“Racism lives everywhere and just because some people can’t see it or don’t live through it in their day-to-day life doesn’t mean that others don’t,” Harrison told Global News.
“I know myself, I have lived through my own fair share of racism being a half-Black woman, and I think it’s important for it to be visible, for Kelowna residents to know that it lives here too.”
On Thursday, Kelowna’s mayor issued a statement ahead of the rally.
“This is a crucial time to listen and learn about discrimination and racism experienced by members of our community,” said Colin Basran.
“It is abhorrent to me and my council colleagues that people experience racism in Kelowna and we stand with everyone committed to identifying how we can make positive change for Black men and women… and by extension, people of colour and Indigenous peoples.”
The rally started at start at noon and will culminate with a silent vigil and march.
The vigil starts at 8 p.m. and will last eight minutes and 47 seconds to mark the time during which Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck. .
The vigil starts at 8 p.m. and will last eight minutes and 47 seconds to mark the time during which Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck.