Over 300 people came out to Lacombe Against Racism to hear the experiences of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour in central Alberta.
The peaceful protest was in solidarity of the Black Lives Matter movements happening around the globe and was also a way to address overt and systemic racism around Lacombe and Alberta.
Alden Boysis, one of the speakers, said it was the first time he has ever been able to use his voice.
“I was taught from a young age to not speak. I have been taught to be the token Indigenous person and just carry on,” he said.
Boysis spoke about creating a better world for his twin children.
“They are two years old and I don’t want a future like this for my kids. I want them to grow up in a country where everyone is equal, no one is hating and is about positivity,” he said.
Boysis hopes the message people took from the event was that if you see racism, you should do something about it.
“Don’t let it continue and stand there videotaping it. Step in. We are better than this. It is not the 60s, 50s, or the 40s. I have kids and I don’t want them to see someone get beat up just because they are different. They deserve to know love, happiness and unity and I think Canada can be better, it should be better and I really hope it will be better,” he said.
Boysis feels these protests are different that previous protests and will make a difference.
“My kids don’t know I am fighting for them but I am fighting for them and it makes it worth while. It’s one day at a time but I believe there could be change for the better,” he said.
Cheryl Baptiste grew up and Lacombe and said she felt the negative affects of racism.
“Almost every community we have moved to we have been told things like we should go back home,” she said.
Baptiste said it was important for her to speak up as an Indigenous woman because she still feels fear walking in the streets.
“Just yesterday my mom was telling me I need to watch my back. I don’t want this to be the rest of my life. I am not even 24 and it is not fair to me as a person when I am no different than anyone else,” she said.
Baptiste was surprised to see the large turnout in Lacombe, especially given some of the negative comments on the event’s Facebook page.
“I wasn’t surprised to see that stuff, but when I saw the turnout — I felt this was above and beyond,” she said.
Baptiste said she is working with different human rights groups through the community and she wants to continue to be educate people on the ills of racism.
Dieulita Datus, part of Ubuntu: Mobilizing Central Alberta which was the group that organized the event, said it was amazing to see so many people come out in her home town of Lacombe.
Despite the large turnout, Datus said systemic racism isn’t something that goes away in a day.
“You can’t dismantle something that has been around for so long in a day. We will keep the conversation going for as long as we can,” she said.
Datus thanked everyone who came out and said it is important to continuing sharing stories going forward.
“So many stories are coming out and so many people have reached out to me through social media to say they would like to be involved. That is how it continues,” she said.