An anti-racism rally and march is being planned for Hay River.
According to organizers, the July 4 event – part of a worldwide denunciation of racism – will show solidarity with black, Indigenous and people of colour communities.
The driving forces behind the rally and march are Vigne Sridharan and Daniella Boronka, two friends who arrived in Hay River in January from Kitchener, Ont.
“We just thought we’d put something together and see what kind of support we got,” said Sridharan. “And it’s been overwhelming.”
She said one of the goals is to make Hay River residents feel like they can also be part of the collective global voice against racism.
Sridharan and Boronka used Facebook to propose the idea of a rally and march, and a key group of community residents reached out to say they would help.
“And from there, we put it out to the community and we’ve got about 80 people that said they’re either going or are interested,” said Sridharan. “And we thought it was going to be just the two of us on the side of the street with signs. It’s really nice to see that people support something like this.”
The recent worldwide demonstrations against racism were sparked by the killing of George Floyd, an African-American man who died in May at the hands of Minneapolis police.
The Hay River demonstration is in response to that, and racism in Canada.
“It’s definitely been a long time coming for this kind of anti-racism change,” said Boronka. “So we decided that we should do a rally because we haven’t heard of anyone else organizing it. And we heard Fort Smith and Yellowknife had done one, so it really just encouraged us to get our community together.”
The rally will start outside the Hay River Community Centre and participants will march around a downtown block before returning to the community centre for speeches.
The organizers are also planning to have petitions for people to sign.
“We’re hoping that the rally gets the conversation going and those petitions can then be taken forward to the members of government and influential people who can take action on that,” said Sridharan.
The rally and march will be socially distanced, and people will be strongly encouraged to wear facemasks against the threat of the coronavirus.
Sridharan said the fact that the event is taking place on July 4 – American Independence Day – is just a coincidence.