CALGARY — An estimated 150 people rallied from Calgary’s Chinatown to City Hall to demonstrate support for racial equality, better treatment of sexual and gender minorities and called out to defund the police.
Numerous organizations were united in their stance that Calgary’s institutions must address systemic issues that perpetuate oppression.
“Quite frankly Calgary needs to change its attitude, its needs to change its attitude at every turn,” said Adora Nwofor, a spokesperson for Black Lives Matter YYC and Defund YYC.
As Calgary Police closed traffic and trailed the march, the signs carried by rally goers matched their chants calling for an end to police violence and for more funding to be distributed to other resources.
“When people hear this message they freak out because they don’t understand what’s going on,” said LJ Joseph, Vice President with BLM YYC and Saturday’s rally organizer.
She added, “really what it is is just a redistribution of funds into say communities like ward 9, 5, and 10 because we are lacking resources in those areas.”
Protests continue south of the border especially in Kenosha, Wisconsin after the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake — an unarmed black man.
Shot in the back seven times, he is now paralyzed.
Another rally speaker emphasized the the violence that faces black and transgender people, an intersection of identity consistently met with oppression.
“Black-trans lives are being murdered day by day and our communities stay silent about it. We do not belong anywhere, when we turn this side we face discrimination,’” said Adebayo Chris Katiiti Kalibbala.
Several Indigenous leaders led a smudge ritual, drumming and singing, speaking out against colonialism and stressing the importance of reconciliation as part of the Idle No More and Land Back movements.
“We have got to stand together as one, we shouldn’t be divided. We are fighting for the same thing,” said A.J. Fallenchild of the Black and Indigenous Alliance of Alberta.
At Municipal Plaza, there was a small presence of counter protesters, including a group representing the far-right pro-violent group the Proud Boys — there were no violent clashes.
Rally leaders told CTV News they hope to meet with Calgary Police Chief Mark Neufeld, but have not been contacted to arrange a meeting.
On Aug. 20, Neufeld tweeted an opinion column from a U.S. based news outlet that calls to defund the police are dangerous.