Evan Wardley, 26, decided to organize a peace rally in downtown Lethbridge after feeling the need to highlight racism in the community.
“I don’t think it got talked enough about,” he said of the topic when he was younger.
Wardley grew up playing bantam and midget hockey and played for four years on the University of Lethbridge Pronghorn’s team. He and his peers say racism in sport is something that can be stopped.
“It’s a lot of just jokes lots of the time,” said Wardley’s friend Blake Orban, a fellow hockey player.
“But those jokes hurt and I think it’s about educating kids at a younger age what’s right, what’s wrong. Because a lot of the time, they don’t know what’s right or what’s wrong.”
June 27 marks Canadian Multiculturalism Day.
On Saturday, a large group gathered at the Multicultural Centre in downtown Lethbridge and marched peacefully to Galt Gardens, where speeches were made following a Blackfoot prayer.
Lethbridge police told Global News 150 to 200 people were in attendance.
“It’s overwhelming,” Wardley said of Saturday’s turnout. “It means the world to me that the community has my back.”
Among the speechmakers was Victor Wutor, president of the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association. He shared his story about being discriminated against based on preconceived bias.
“We have to go past the stage where people say, ‘I stand with you,'” Wutor said.
“With slogans and catchy phrases and all that — no. We need to go beyond that. We need to begin to make a conscious effort to tackle racism in our community.”
Remko Hess, a SAGE Clan patrol member, attended the event.
“I would like to see all of my friends who post on social media about this stuff just to come out here,” Hess said.
“We need to hear you.”
Wardley said he received kind words from Lethbridge Police Service Interim Chief Scott Woods about the event.
“With the ones that showed up here today, and knowing that Scott Woods has my approval, I think that speaks volumes to the Lethbridge Police Service,” Wardley said.