Organizers are expecting thousands of people in downtown Vancouver on Friday afternoon for a “Juneteenth” March.
June 19, or “Juneteenth,” is also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day in the United States and began in 1865 to mark the freeing of slaves.
Organizers in Vancouver said many people in the community have advocated for a march to demonstrate unity, as a subsequent event to the recent Black Lives Matter protests at Jack Poole Plaza and the Vancouver Art Gallery.
“We’re the human race. It shouldn’t be a Black or white issue,” Nova Stevens, organizer of Freedom March Vancouver, told Global News.
“That’s our whole mission. Unity.
“We want to highlight the word ‘freedom’ because that’s what our ancestors were fighting for. It’s unfortunate that we have to continue with this fight today but we want to make sure that freedom is heard — freedom is for all people, not just people of colour.”
The event is set to begin at Jack Poole Plaza at 4 p.m. with the march starting at 4:30 p.m., moving south on Thurlow Street, turning right onto Pacific Street, and ending at Sunset Beach Park.
Black artists and speakers will then perform and address the crowd from a stage.
Black-owned businesses will also be there to showcase local Black culture and food.
“To us, it’s all about Black economics and highlighting the Black community,” Stevens said.
“I don’t want to call it an event because it’s not a celebration, but we want people to understand what’s going on.”
Organizers are asking anyone who wants to join to take precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19.
This includes observing physical distancing and wearing a face covering. For those who are sick and cannot attend in person, the event will also be livestreamed.
A protest earlier this week shone a new light on an area of Vancouver that is historically important to the Black community.
Covering a section of the Strathcona neighbourhood, the area known as Hogan’s Alley was demolished to make way for the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts in the the early 1970s.
Seven people were arrested when they refused a police order to clear the area, but officers said overall the group was cooperative.