Despite protest organizers cancelling the June 4 protest Kamloops banded together and gathered, along with many other Canadian cities, to protest the unlawful deaths of BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Colour) and racism in Canada.
Official protest organizers cancelled via Instagram post, which is no longer available, just hours from 12 p.m. protest start time stating their intentions with the event didn’t “align with the effects of our actions.”
“This event will be cancelled as we too, would rather BIPOC directly organize these events. We took all feedback we could see from BIPOC to make our platform better and listen to all the criticism we got from them but we feel as though this was not enough,” organizers said in the deleted post.
“What I said… ‘Cancelled for who? It’s not cancelled until racism is cancelled,” Tim Unaegbu, the athletic director and PE teacher at Kamloops Christian School, said to the crowd during Thursday’s protest.
Unaegbu, along with other Black members of the community took to the Rotary Bandshell stage in Riverside Park to speak up against the racism that is persistent in Canada and right here at home in Kamloops.
The protests sparked in the United States after the violent death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Protests have been recorded all over the United States with many across Canada protesting the racism that is alive in our own country.
Hundreds of residents gathered in front of the bandshell, filling the field in a sea of signs and chants of anger and support for those speaking.
Local artist Leslie Carty shared his harrowing experience with the Kamloops RCMP in 2018 when police believed he was breaking into his own shed at his downtown rental property. Police pulled a gun and pointed it at him while he tried to explain his ownership of the residence. Emotions were justifiably high as Carty shared story after story of the racism he’s experienced his whole life.
The peaceful protest continued with a march up Victoria street from Riverside Park towards the downtown RCMP detachment. Signs were held high as chants of “No justice, no peace” and “Black lives matter” rang through downtown.
Cars stopped to allow protesters to march safely, honking and waving to show their support with the protesters.
The gathering lingered outside of the downtown detachment as countless stories of local racism washed over the crowd.
Carty continued speaking to the crowd of the pain and harm these experiences have caused him pain, taking a moment to direct his pain towards the detachment exclaiming “I can’t sleep!” as he recalled the 2018 experience and the trauma that has lingered long after.
The afternoon’s peaceful protest demonstrated that Canada is no better than the United States and that racism is alive in our own community.