A small group of West Islanders gathered together in solidarity at Grier park in the borough of Pierrefonds for a peaceful rally to denounce racism.
Youth Unite against Racism is an event that empowers youth to speak up, take a stand and come together to make a difference and combat racial inequality. The goal of the event is to give youth tools to speak out against racism by teaching kids to unite with their brothers and sisters who are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) friends and neighbours we, as a society, can fight the evil disease of racism.
“Often time the conversation about racism is gears toward adults but we want kids to know that there feelings are just as valid and if they any questions we are here to answer them for them” said organizer Akilah Newton, who wanted to remind everyone that Black Lives Matter is not another trend.
“It’s very important because a lot of people just see this as a moment — it’s not a moment, Black Lives Matter is a movement, this was a conversation since the civil rights movements and it needs to carry on in 2020, 2021.”
READ MORE: Quebec issues province wide street check guidelines; rights groups raise concerns
Emotions continue to run high months after the death of George Floyd, who died after a white police officer was filmed kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 25.
Many parents at the rally told global news they do not shy away from the tough conversations with their children.
“My daughter is half Black, half Pakistani, and for her, she realizes some people in her class don’t look like her and there’s a lot of time she’s watching shows and she’s not represented in those shows,” parent Shawn Jackson said. “It’s hard have those conversations. I’m proud of her to approach us and want to talk about it.”
B.C. wildfire map 2020: Current location of wildfires burning around the province
Strong support for Conservatives under new leader, but candidates underwhelm: poll
Another parent, Allison Saunders, added: “My darker child experiences racism a little bit different than his lighter skin brother does but his light skin brother see how he’s being treated differently how his classmates are treated differently, so it’s a real interesting conversation in our house.”
Saunders is also the newly appointed commissioner of the Lester B. Pearson school board. She believes that children voices need to be heard more when talking about racism.
“It’s really important for me that kids know they can go to an adult like me, we will hear what they have to say and help them amplify their voice with their parents to make changes that will have an impact on them,” Saunders said.
READ MORE: Montreal’s West Island communities rally against racism, police brutality
The West Island has seen racist incidents this summer.
Two months ago, a video widely circulated shows two teenage girls from John Rennie High School donning blackface, singing and dancing as they mouth a string of racial insults and slurs. In another incident, a Lindsay Place High School graduate appeared in his high school yearbook alongside the phrase “most likely to become a criminal”. In a separate incident, racial slurs were found written on a dumpster in Pointe-Claire.
“George Floyd was a catalyst for amplifying situations that have existed in these communities for as long as I have been in them expect that now we have way to name it,” Saunders said. “We know what it looks like, we know what it’s called we have concrete examples. Now with media and social media, we can make stories like that go further than just a principle and a teen and a parent.”
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.