Black and Aboriginal lives matter in Pembroke

PEMBROKE – A positive, encouraging spirit filled the amphitheatre behind Algonquin College along the beautiful Waterfront Park in Pembroke, the afternoon of Tuesday, June 9, as a few hundred people gathered to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

People began to gather at about 2:30 in the afternoon for the event that was scheduled for 3:00. Most of the people were young, young women, young white women, but there were as well significant numbers of black people, both men and women, in a place with such a small black population. The young were dressed in black, the older people were often more colourfully dressed, in tie-die, often.

By the time the first speaker took the stage at about 3:20, several hundred people were in attendance. People listened quietly and applauded frequently as speakers shared their reflections on world events, especially the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and on their own experiences as visible minorities.

The claims of the young speakers were, for the most part, modest, and therefore the more believable. One speaker, a young black man, mentioned a bullying incident when he was in school in Pembroke and remarked that the teachers had zero tolerance for the bad behaviour.

They spoke of making the world better, of building on what has been attained, and yet also drew attention to the injustices that seem to plague the world, even in Canada. They mentioned the legacy of residential schools, of Japanese internment in World War II, and of the current inequalities in term of incarceration and in policing even in a place like Toronto.

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