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VANCOUVER—Hundreds of people took to the streets of Vancouver on March 18 for the annual Community March Against Racism, marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21. The march, organized by No One is Illegal (NOII)–Vancouver, began at Commercial Drive and 14th Avenue and made its way along the Drive to Grandview Park.
Along the way, stops were made to gather for songs and speakers. After Coast Salish drumming and singing in the middle of the busy intersection of East Broadway and Commercial, Kat Norris of the Indigenous Action Movement asked for a moment of silence "for all of our people on the street, for all of our people incarcerated, for all of our people suffering in their homes..."
Further along the Drive, the march paused once again. "There was a man that was lit on fire on this street by neo-Nazis, and very little was done about it," explained rally emcee Harjap Grewal.
Robertson De Chazal and Alastair Miller, both reportedly members of neo-Nazi group Blood and Honour, have been charged for the 2009 attack against a Filipino man, who had been sleeping on a discarded couch near Commercial Drive. The attack was one of several in recent years that targeted people of colour.
"Feeling safe to walk these streets should not be just a Canadian fiction," a group from the Kalayaan Centre recited in a collective poem. "So-called progressive Van city, silencing histories."
NOII's Grewal highlighted the fact that in the early 1900s, Vancouver was home to race riots and racist legislation—and today racist attacks and legislation remain. "We need to see how these things are linked, and we need to fight back."
"Aqui estamos y no nos vamos. We are here and we're not going anywhere!,” said activist Richard Marquez. "We can't rely on the cops, the courts and the legislators. We’ve got to rely on the people's movement."
Sandra Cuffe is a writer and aspiring janitor currently living in Vancouver.
This article was originally published by the Vancouver Media Coop.
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.