Protest against anti-Black racism taking place in Mississauga this weekend
A few weeks ago, protests demanding an end to police brutality and systemic racism swept North America, and even though the marches were ignited by the death of George Floyd—an unarmed Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis—Canadians took to the street to demand justice for those suffering north of the border.
Weeks later, large-scale protests are fewer and further between in the GTA—but four high school students are working to ensure that the struggle for equality doesn't fall by the wayside.
"After I attended the Mississauga March (June 7) and went to the Peel March for Justice (June 17), I felt compelled to do another one here in Mississauga," Zaida Smith, organizer of the upcoming march and founder of Mississauga 4 Justice, told insauga.com.
"I feel the movement is sort of dying down because people felt it was more of a trend. I think this march will make it apparent in people's mind that this is something that has to be looked at."
Smith, who partnered with fellow high school students Nina Oliveira, Kaden S., and Natalya Waldron to organize the upcoming protest, says Mississauga 4 Justice was founded and organized to bring awareness to the systemic racism that Black Canadians face on a regular basis.
The protest that's being organized by Mississauga 4 Justice is slated to kick off at Celebration Square on Sunday, Aug. 16 at 2:30 pm.
The march will mark the organization's first major event.
Smith said the protest is calling for police reform and mandatory body cams, as well as equality in all Canadian institutions.
"We stand in solidarity with the many victims of police brutality across the globe and demand justice for those beautiful lives that were lost. We demand that all law enforcement officers be required to wear and enable body cams at all times and for the reform of the Canadian police system," Smith said in an email to insauga.com.
"We also strive for equal representation in schools, media, government and all other systems that evidently use unjust practices."
Smith said the upcoming march will feature speeches by activists and people who have been directly affected by fatal interactions with police. Speakers will include the family of Jamal Francique, a 28-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by Peel police earlier this year, Sophia Brown Ramsay, the executive director of the Black Community Action Network (BCAN) of Peel, Justin Kyle, a digital entrepreneur and health and wellness coach, Roderick Brereton, founder of social change group Urban Rez Solutions and Alicia Hall, executive director of the Nia Centre for the Arts.
Smith and the other organizers are asking all participants to take strict precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"We're asking everyone to wear masks and asking people not to come if they're sick or if someone in their family is showing symptoms," Smith said, adding that social distancing marshals will be marching with everyone to ensure people are keeping a safe distance from each other.
On Mississauga 4 Justice's Instagram page, organizers said that they've successfully crowdfunded enough money to pay for megaphones and personal protective equipment. Once the campaign surpasses $1,500, the organization will donate the surplus funds to the Black Legal Action Centre and the Toronto chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The rest of the funding will go towards water cases, snacks, and portable tables and chairs for the upcoming march.
Organizers also recently held a bake sale to raise funds for the march.
As for what the future holds for Mississauga 4 Justice, Smith says more events are possible going forward.
"Right now, we're focused on this event, but there's a possibility of others in the future. For now, it's just Mississauga, but we'd love to branch out to other cities in Peel."
Smith says participants should aim to arrive at Celebration Square at 2:00 pm. Once people arrive, the march will commence with speeches and a land acknowledgement.
"We need to keep the movement's momentum going and keep it in people's minds," Smith said.
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Cover photo courtesy of @digitaltheory
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