Hundreds of people showed up at an anti-racism rally in Spryfield on Wednesday, adding their voices to the chorus calling for systemic change around the globe.
It’s one of several events that have taken place in Nova Scotia this month, spurred by the recent deaths of Black men and women in the United States and Canada, held in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
“This thing that we call a system is bleeding,” said community activist DeRico Symonds, speaking at Halifax neighbourhood’s community centre.
“We need solutions. We live in a society where we stand for dignitaries that can’t stand the sight of our communities.”
Halifax is a city with a history of oppression. Its founder, Edward Cornwallis, is known for putting a bounty on Mi’kmaw scalps in 1749 while serving as governor of Nova Scotia.
More than 200 years later, the city’s municipal government forced Black families out of their homes during the eviction of Africville.
Today, Mi’kmaw communities still fight to protect their traditional territories from unwanted resource extraction, and the Halifax Regional Police is struggling to rebuild public trust after years of disproportionately street-checking and surveying African Nova Scotians.
After decades of oppression and historical trauma, people of colour are exhausted, said Trayvone Clayton of Game Changers 902.
He called on folks at the rally to step up and fight oppression not just during protests, but in their daily lives.
“We need you to come to us instead of us coming to you because we’ve been kicked over so many times, it came to the point that you guys have to see deaths to believe,” Clayton said.
Kate Macdonald, another Black youth leader, made the same request.
She asked allies to sign petitions, write politicians, donate funds, organize and bring Black history and reality into provincial classrooms. Of the Halifax Regional Municipality, she said, “defund the police.”
“A quarter of our entire city budget goes to the police. That’s a lot of money,” Macdonald told the crowd.
“We have a lot of other things that need attention, like health care, like affordable housing, like education, child care, senior citizens — just to name a few.”
Other speakers at the rally included Stop the Violence’s Quentrel Provo, artist Makye Clayton, educator Venessa Brooks, pastor Josh Crawford and Otis Daye, student equity co-ordinator for the Halifax Regional Centre for Education.
Together, they challenged the crowd to live the challenge of dismantling white supremacy, even when the protests end, the hashtags are no longer trending, and many of life’s distractions resume after the pandemic ends.