Flin Flon will play host to a protest of police violence next week.
Organizers of the protest, called “Justice for the Injustice”, plan to meet June 8 from 12 p.m.-3 p.m. at Pioneer Square to raise local awareness and support for Black Lives Matter and for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
The idea of the protest began when a pair of women, unable to head to similar protests elsewhere, began planning online to hold an outing in Flin Flon.
“I really wanted to participate in the protest that’s going on in Winnipeg, but with the pandemic and everything, I can't just up and go to the city. I thought, ‘Why not have one here in Flin Flon?’” said organizer Cassandra Porteous.
“I think it’s especially important up here to keep open hearts. I want people to be judged on their person, not their skin colour. With everything negative going on, I want to create a positive movement. It’s especially important to me because I am Indigenous. I’m doing this for my grandmother who never got the chance to,” added organizer Hailey Steiner.
Starting as a single Facebook status, the idea spread, gaining traction among Porteous’ friends and friends of friends.
While the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others are geographically far from Flin Flon, Porteous said there must still be awareness of undue police violence, racist attitudes and injustice.
“As small of a town as we are, a little awareness of what’s going on, regardless of what country it’s happening in, can go a long way. People need to know that what is happening is wrong. The blatant racism, the police brutality, the Indigenous brothers and sisters that go missing and no one bats an eye. In the end, we are all human and no one should be treated any differently just because of their skin colour.”
Organizers will be putting up signs around the community about incidents of police brutality, Black Lives Matter and missing and murdered Indigenous people in advance of the protest.
“We are going forward with a positive spirit and hope we can make a change with this protest. For the time now, we are organizing and gathering more and more information,” Porteous said.
“I'm excited to hopefully have a good turn out but also, to be able to raise awareness and help educate all those who may not know what is going on. In the end, we want equality for all & for BIPOC (black, Indigenous, people of colour) to feel safe.”
Protesting during COVID-19 may be seen by some as risky, but Porteous said the protest will include social distancing and attendees are welcome to wear masks to keep themselves safe.
“Social distancing will still be in effect and people can wear masks if they're worried about the illness but would still like to support the cause,” she said.
Porteous said the protest has received a positive reaction from people who have gotten involved so far.
“I'm just hoping people show up with an open mind and heart to support and educate themselves on the vicious cycle in society involving ethnic groups in North America, focusing on the issue of ignorance towards police brutality against primarily black people in the U.S,” she said.
“I'm happy with it so far, it’s nice to see other people had similar ideals. Hopefully with it being on Monday, we can spread the word a little more so it can potentially reach everyone. I'm hoping all who attend are open minded & supportive, which I don't think Flin Flon will lack in.”
Steiner hopes to see a good turnout during the rally and hopes people will come away inspired to drive change.
“I hope more people start to stand up, speak up and be the change. I know I may be young, but I want nothing more than a better generation down the line. I hope it brings this terrible issue to light, that it can’t be ignored any longer,” Steiner said.
“I would love to see a lot of people coming and showing their support for this movement of justice. I picture a group of happy people simply standing up for what needs to change, people with signs, shirts and everything. The more people, the stronger the impact we’ll make.”
More information can be found at the Justice for the Injustice Facebook page.