‘Stettler Against Racism – A Peaceful Protest to Support Black Lives Matter’ was held June 12th in the football field beside Wm E. Hay Stettler Secondary Campus.
There were a few speakers scheduled, plus the overall event was meant to raise awareness about the issue of racism and help to encourage conversations about it as well, said Catherine Robinson, one of the event’s organizers. Also helping to organize the event was Mobilizing Central Alberta (Sadia Kahn and Dieulita Datus) and Cheryl Baptiste out of Red Deer.
“We want to raise awareness, start conversations and keep the momentum going,” said Robinson, adding that she was also hoping the community could come together and plan something for National Aboriginal Day on June 21st. “I would encourage people to learn, educate and to ask questions,” she said.
Baptiste said her main goal was to help educate those in attendance. “We want to bring the resources that are available in town or online in surrounding areas, and direct people to where they can go to get further educated about the history of discrimination and the actions that they can take to combat it,” she said.
“It’s been absolutely amazing,” she said of the awareness-building protests that have taken place across the region of late. Baptiste helped to organize two protests in Red Deer as well.
“It definitely shows that people are aware of what is going on,” she said of the response. “But it also shows sometimes that they don’t have as much information as they think they do,” she said. “You can’t really get out and fight something if you don’t (fully) know what it is.”
Baptiste shared that she has experienced discrimination firsthand as an Indigenous person. “I’m only 23, and I have a whole lot of life ahead of me so I don’t want this to be something that is present going forward. I definitely want to go out of my way to help educate the younger people, too,” she explained.
During her speech, she shared of the personal pain of racism, and the devastating effects it has on a family.
“I can’t tell you the number of times my mother cried in front of me and my siblings asking why does this happen to my kids? A lot of people don’t understand or don’t consider how much it affects a young individual.”
She remembered how she would often ask herself why she was being treated differently than others.
Sabrina Samuel, who is originally from Consort, explained that whenever people are mobilized, it can really push a cause forward.
“You can’t watch something like that and not react,” Samuel added of the killing of George Floyd.
“There is so much change in the world – I really feel like it’s happening now. Changing isn’t something that is coming – change is here,” she said.
“I really hope that people will have conversations about speaking up both in micro ways and in macro ways,” she said, adding that it’s in everyday places like schools, playgrounds and in talks around the kitchen table that racism can also be eradicated.
“Justice and equality are two of my deepest personal values. And I really believe things can change, and they are.”