PHOTOS: Dual rallies take over Legislature lawn on Canada Day

A person standing on the Legislature steps as part of the Resist Canada 153 rally, holds a Canadian flag with the words ‘still stolen’ painted on it. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Over a hundred people showed up to the Resist Canada 153 rally at the Legislature on July 1. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Joseph Thomas, wearing the red jersey with the number 58 on it, gets ready to take a bow with a group of traditional dancers called Joseph’s Singers and Dancers after a performance on the Legislature steps. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Kati George-Jim, one of the organizers, speaks to the crowd and thanks them for being there. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Another rally was held on the Legislature lawn called Unify the People. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Two men who did not want to give their names hold signs at the Unify the People rally. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Two different rallies gathered at B.C.’s Legislature in Victoria on Canada Day, but neither was there to celebrate the country’s birthday.

One event, called Resist Canada 153, was “created in collaboration by a number of community members for the purpose of celebrating our collective resistance as Black and Indigenous peoples – resistance against assimilation, genocide, white supremacy and all other forms of colonialism,” reads the description on Facebook.

READ ALSO: 13 Wet’suwet’en supporters arrested by VicPD

A banner reading ‘Decolonize KKKlanda’ provided a backdrop on the steps of the Legislature where people shared stories and experiences about racism and colonization in Canada.

“I guess folks were misinformed about what we’re celebrating today – we’re not celebrating unity and freedom and rights under the Canadian state; we’re celebrating our collective relationship and resistance as Black and Indigenous people and those that stand in solidarity with that idea,” said organizer Kati George-Jim to a cheering crowd.

Selma Arale, who also organized a people-less Black Lives Matter protest in Centennial Square, spoke to the crowd and questioned what was being celebrated on Canada Day.

“Are we celebrating its Indigenous peoples? Are we celebrating the POC that live on this land,” she asked the crowd.

“No, we’re not. We’re celebrating the rape, the genocide, all of the disgusting things that happened and they weren’t that long ago.”

READ ALSO: PHOTOS: Dozens show up to rebuild vandalized Victoria people-less protest

The other rally at the legislature, Unify the People, was smaller in size, with speakers set up near the Queen Victoria statue.

Many of the attendees at the gathering did not wear masks. A number of the signs seen called into question the validity of the pandemic. One protester, who did not wish to give his name, used a viral conspiracy theory video that was pulled from social media platforms for spreading false information, to back up his points.

Canada Day has taken a different tone this year as the pandemic disallows for large gatherings while 2020 has quickly become one of reckoning for systemic racism both in Canada and across the 49th parallel.

In Vancouver, an anti-Canada Day march is set to start Wednesday afternoon outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery. The event is being hosted by Idle No More, an Indigenous-led group, and intend to “gather to honour all of the lives lost to the Canadian State.”

According to the Facebook event, roughly 600 people say they plan to attend.

During Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Canada Day address he said the success of the country is because of its people, particularly those who strive to make the country a place of peace, equality and compassion.

– With files from Ashley Wadhwani


 

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