Rally against anti-Black racism to be held in Iqaluit today

Rally starts at the Four Corners intersection at 11:45

Murielle Jassinthe is a public relations officer with the Nunavut Black History Society. She’s helping to organize a rally to speak out about anti-Black racism today. (Photo by Meagan Deuling)

By Meagan Deuling
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A rally against anti-Black racism is being held this morning in Iqaluit.

The rally will start at 11:45 at the Four Corners intersection, where speeches will be held, and then the group will march to the RCMP station. Everyone is welcome.

Murielle Jassinthe, a public relations director for the Nunavut Black History Society, said that “everybody reached out to us,” to ask how they could support Iqaluit’s black community at this time, as widespread protests against anti-Black racism are held internationally.

The protests have been prompted by the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.

Organizations that reached out to the Nunavut Black History Society include the union that represents Government of Nunavut employees, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the Positive Space Network and the African & Caribbean Association of Nunavut.

Jassinthe said she was grieving Floyd’s death and the general state of anti-Black racism in the world, and in Iqaluit.

“And people coming over and being like, I want to support you, but I don’t want to take your space” made her feel less alone, she said.

At the end of the march, Jassinthe said they’re going to hand a candle to the RCMP, as a symbol that it’s the force’s turn to address racism within the RCMP, and in the territory.

She said that the group of people who came together to plan the rally is very diverse, and their message is that addressing anti-Black racism is bigger than Black people.

“We are all in it together,” she said. “If someone is not free, there’s no freedom.”

Jassinthe said the rally is just the beginning. The committee that formed to organize the rally also wants to work together to address the systemic “everyday” racism that is ongoing in Nunavut, which can lead to events such as what happened in Kinngait this week, when an RCMP officer was shown on video knocking a man to the ground with the door of his truck.

The committee also plans to send letters to various territorial organizations, including the RCMP and the GN, to propose concrete actions that can be taken to combat anti-Black racism.

Jassinthe said that with Donald Trump as the president of the United States, she’s noticed that people are more open to expressing their racism, and that now is the time that people need to support each other instead of fear each other.

She said people are thinking about their own racist biases right now because of Floyd’s murder, and the incident in Kinngait, and this attention should be galvanized to create change.

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(7) Comments:

  1. Posted by Covid-19 on

    “I do think that we systemically have been neglecting a very significant community within our society,” another protester said. “We can’t do that anymore. We need to be listening to their voices.”

  2. Posted by What else, Jassinthe ? on

    I hope you are going to have a rally for the other races who
    live in Nunavut.
    Black, white, or yellow, I have seen much racism in Nunavut.
    At all levels, and at all people.
    I see our MP talking about Edmonton Eskimos again, I guess
    there is no more problems in Nunavut.

    • Posted by Pickled Herring on

      Well, nuance matters here. That racism abounds in Nunavut is no mystery. As you probably know the dynamics underlying that, and the treatment that results are not even across the board. I won’t try to unpack that here.

      As for this event, it should be understood as part of a the larger movement. Obviously, to look at in isolation might make it seem a bit odd. Still, the message that racism is not tolerable is one that can stand alone.

  3. Posted by Peter D on

    I couldn’t attend today because of covid-19 self-isolation orders, but I’m with y’all in spirit. Black Lives Matter. End police brutality. An injury to one is an injury to all.

  4. Posted by Racism is alive and well in Nunavut on

    Yes racism is alive and well in Nunavut. Some of it is subtle and some is not. However, the most aggressive and in your face racism I have seen in Nunavut is aimed at black people.
    At the storehouse it is common to hear the N-word being thrown at the workers there. It is common in schools throughout the territory to hear it from students and directed at teachers who are black. About five years ago in Igloolik the principal’s office was broken into and ransacked as well as it had racist graffiti scribbled. Just look at the treatment that cab drivers receive in Iqaluit…often it is racially motivated. So, yes please support this anti-racist campaign. It is needed in Nunavut.

  5. Posted by Timmy on

    Next rally Inuit lives matter. ✊?

  6. Posted by Racism is alive on

    As long as there are different people, racism will be so. That’s not good, but it’s a defect of our human nature. We must suppress it. In the North we have issues with Inuit being treated very poorly over the years, by government, school systems, and racism has lived here in its form. But I don’t see many Inuit out protesting peacefully to the police treatment of Inuit in Nunavik. Police have been suspected of treating Inuit brutally too. Some claims are not proven, but in solidarity Inuit need to protest some. As far as blacks protesting in the North, as good as it may sound, I hope it don’t put Inuit concerns on the back burner to bring blacks matters out in its stead negatively for Inuit.

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