By Lethbridge Herald on June 28, 2020.
Around 100 local activists gathered as part of Multiculturalism Day to participate in a Peace Rally March from the Multicultural Centre to Galt Gardens on Saturday afternoon.
Evan Wardley, a Black hockey player from Vulcan who played for the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns, wanted to organize the rally for the community to come together and move forward.
“What happened in the States with George Floyd really kickstarted this movement across the world, so for me, I just wanted to raise the attention here in Lethbridge and bring the community together in a positive way,” says Wardley.
“It is overwhelming, it means the world to me to know that the community has my back. I have lived here now for 10 years, this is the place that I call home, this is the place that I want to raise my family, so knowing that the Lethbridge community supports the end of racism, it is really comforting going forward.”
People of colour, around the world and in southern Alberta, have faced discrimination on a daily basis, including Wardley who says having a community back a movement like this allows sheltered voices to express themselves fearlessly.
“It is about the community, it’s always been about the community and being able to see everyone as equal. It’s about looking around and not judging people because of how they look, what they are wearing, but you are accepting them for who they are and that is the message I want to push moving forward,” says Wardley.
“Racism for sure is an issue in Canada, I don’t think we talk enough about it. I know for myself growing up I dealt with it, my sister dealt with it, there is so many people here in this community that have dealt with it, but haven’t had a voice or really a way to express themselves for so many years.”
Although law enforcement is viewed as the opposing side in protests internationally, Wardley says the Lethbridge Police Service has been nothing but supportive of the rallies and people need to understand the tough job they do.
“They weren’t able to speak today, (Police Chief) Scott Woods wasn’t available, but he did send me a really nice message to let me know that they will support me through everything,” says Wardley.
“There are some officers here and they will be marching with us today, and they have all been nothing but supportive up to this point and I think that with everything going on, a lot of people have a certain hatred towards the police force, but we have to understand that they are the front-line workers, they are the people that we call when we need them the most, so we have to respect them and understand that their job is really important, too.
“There are some good police officers. There are some bad ones for sure, but the ones that showed up here today and knowing that Scott Woods has support, I think that speaks volumes to the Lethbridge Police Service.”
Throughout the Peace March and Rally on Saturday afternoon, speeches of perseverance, acceptance and equality were shared. Activists at the rally hope that the message of acceptance and equality will spread into the community for a better future.
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