Hay River is the latest NWT community to hold an anti-racism demonstration. A march was planned for 2pm-4pm on Saturday, July 4.
Organizers said the march would depart from the Don Stewart arena’s parking lot at 2pm and proceed through the town before an opening prayer from Doug Lamalice and speeches.
“It’s been an overwhelming, great response,” said Daniella Boronka, who arranged the march with Vigne Sridharan, in an interview earlier this week.
“We thought we would be just the two of us marching on the corner, but we’re up to 96 people who are interested or confirming that they are coming,” Boronka said.
“I think it has been a long time coming for Hay River.”
Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Fort Simpson, and Inuvik have each held marches related to the Black Lives Matter movement since protests began proliferating across North America in the past month.
“We didn’t really hear of anything here. We put it out to the community … and it sort-of fell on us to take it on,” Sridharan told Cabin Radio.
“The theme of our protest is: let’s start talking. People are saying it is high time something like this happened.”
Sridharan and Boronka say they are relative newcomers to Hay River, arriving at the start of the year.
“In our little time here we have seen both direct and covert racism,” Sridharan said. “People have also talked about power struggles, bureaucracy, and how racism has played into that.
“People haven’t had a platform to voice those concerns and frustration.”
Sridharan hopes to follow Saturday’s event with an NWT-wide summit.
“We’re taking that on and hopefully forming a committee after this … to address systemic racism in Canada’s North,” she said, adding interest had been shown in such a summit by members of Parliament and the NWT Human Rights Commission.
“That’ll be when we can start solidifying some concrete action and start talking about more specific things.”