Thousands gathered at Loyola Park in Montreal in solidarity with anti-Black racism protests throughout the world, all with the same message — “Black lives matter”.
“Black lives matter because Black lives are at risk more than any other lives,” said Montrealer Sarah Lafond, a Black woman pursuing a career in education.
Lafond said she was impressed with the turnout, but added actions speak louder than words.
“Two days ago I broke down crying to my husband, asking him what we can do, how can we be involved cause I’m tired of us talking… but not taking any actions,” Lafond said.
Her husband, Jonathan Serjue, is a Black man who is the co-director of Champs Basketball in Montreal, a partnership with local schools to encourage children to play sports and learn teamwork.
Serjue said he believes that change needs to start at the top, and that the general public needs to be better educated on racial issues.
“Everyone has to look at each other as the same and support each other, just like in life we have to support all races, but right now we’re asking whites, Chinese, all groups to support Blacks just like a team setting,” Serjue said.
Emotions continue to run high two weeks after the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after a white police officer was videotaped kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis, Minn.
“It’s sad that someone had to die for this to happen,” said Serjue.
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Denburk Reid, the founder of Montreal Community Cares, is also the creator of the Montreal rally.
“I thought it was a beautiful thing because that’s really what we set out to do, build bridges and bring the community together — enough with the divide,” Reid said.
Reid’s foundation aims to empower youth by developing their leadership skills through programs, workshops and events, and by building bridges between communities.
“You can hope for change but until you take the steps to make it happen, it won’t happen,” says Reid.
Sean Frederick, president of Fredrick Movers, told Global News that “it’s frustrating because we shouldn’t be here.
“It’s not for the people that are here, it’s for the people that are not here.
“It’s empowering to see people believe in the same thing you do but it’s frustrating when you don’t want to be here because people shouldn’t be dying like this,” Frederick added.
Frederick said he remembers his mother’s advice, which he keeps close to his heart.
“Never let your color affect your future — you can do anything you want to in spite of your colour,” said Frederick.