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Hundreds march against racism

Speakers denounce genocide, occupation and Jason Kenney

by Claudio Storelli

Marching against racism through downtown Vancouver
Marching against racism through downtown Vancouver

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VANCOUVER -  Hundreds came out today to demonstrate in the spirit of acceptance and solidarity at the Community March Against Racism. The march came on the eve of the 51st anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa and in the wake of global political and tectonic shifts.

Representatives from the Coast Salish Territories and the grassroots anti-colonial immigrant and refugee rights collective No One is Illegal rallied close to 500 supporters under the shadow of the Price Waterhouse Cooper building in downtown Vancouver. As the temperature rose and the crowd swelled, the scent of sage filled the air as First Nations members performed ritual blessings on the participants, all under the watchful eye of the Vancouver police.

Once the march got underway, the streets were electrified with speakers and music. Organizers denounced Canada’s genocidal legacy, the occupation of Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s modifications to Bill C-50, the Live-in Care Giver Program and the $53-million budget cuts to immigrant and refugee servicing agencies. 

Announced in December, those changes empowered Kenney to decide who can and cannot stay in Canada, while the budget cuts were meant to reduce government spending and redistribute the "savings" across the provinces.

NDP MP Olivia Chow recently put forth a motion to reverse the government's “devastating decision”. On March 3, that motion passed 145-134, but Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has yet to restore settlement funding.

March organizers called for a stop to the theft of Indigenous lands and freedom from police violence, imprisonment and deportation noting that Immigrants and Indigenous peoples remain over-represented in the Canadian criminal system, are subject to a high child apprehension rate, low education and income levels and often dwell in substandard housing.

The march briefly occupied the intersections of Robson and Burrard, then Robson and Hornby before wrapping up with music, food and speeches behind the Vancouver Art Gallery.

 Click here for more photos of the march.

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