South Peace News
In the wake of massive protests against police brutality and against racism in the US over the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer, and after a similar protest in Falher, Peace River held its own Black Lives Matter solidarity protest on June 6.
“I saw what was going on in the rest of the world and I realize that in Canada we tend to hide away from our issues, we tend to hide the problems that go on in this country and just pretend like everything is OK,” says organizer Jacob Weldon-Hryniuk.
“I think it’s very important for not just the big cities like Toronto and Edmonton and Calgary but for the small communities to speak out and recognize that there are issues in their community that they need to speak out on.”
Peace River town councillors Don Good and Byron Schamehorn walked in the protest, while Councillor Orren Ford followed the protest in his truck to keep the protestors safe.
Weldon-Hryniuk says he is very impressed that town councillors joined, although he was also hoping Mayor Tom Tarpey would attend.
“I think it is important for the Town to make a statement. It does make an impact on the minorities in this community to realize that government officials do represent them as well.”
Weldon-Hryniuk says people who believe all protestors are violent don’t understand the movement.
“They don’t realize what’s going on and they need to educate themselves on what’s happening,” he says.
He says people are angry, and that means some people may act out on that anger.
“If that’s how change is made, that’s how change is made.”
Weldon-Hryniuk says it was important to him that his own protest was peaceful.
“I wanted it to be for realizing that yes, there are issues in our community, but also for the people in Toronto, in Minnesota, to know that their voices are not being unheard, that we are here with them.
“This is going to be in history books one day.”
Local police say they were not informed before the protest, and their resources were consumed with another major incident that day.
“On behalf of the detachment, I can say that we wholeheartedly support bias free policing and equitable treatment of all persons by our employees,” says Sgt. Dave Browne.
“We also support and protect every citizen’s fundamental freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. We would’ve liked to have been present at the protest, had circumstances allowed.”