Crowd marks Emancipation Day with downtown Vancouver rally
VANCOUVER -- Roughly 150 people gathered in Vancouver's Jack Poole Plaza Saturday for a rally and march commemorating Emancipation Day - the day slavery ended in the British Empire in 1834.
Participants listened to speakers and music in the plaza, most of them wearing masks and maintaining physical distance to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Ezeadi Patrick Onukwulu, one of the organizers of Saturday's event, said the goal was not only to draw attention to Emancipation Day, but to keep pressure on governments across Canada and across North America when it comes to addressing issues of systemic racism.
"We're basically keeing the momentum going on getting issues that deal with black people resolved - racism, police brutality, discrimination at workplaces and systemic racism," Onukwulu said. "We're just trying to keep everything relevant."
Saturday's rally was much smaller than those held in May and June, when three gatherings each drew thousands of people downtown to protest police violence and systemic racism in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
The first two gatherings were stationary affairs, with protesters assembling first at the Vancouver Art Gallery on May 31 and later at Jack Poole Plaza on June 6.
On Saturday, participants followed a route similar to the one used by those who marched during the third event, held on June 19 in commemoration of the American slavery abolition holiday Juneteenth.
After assembling at Jack Poole Plaza, marchers made their way up Burrard Street, crossing downtown to Sunset Beach, where the Vancouver Pride Festival would have been held this weekend had it not been cancelled because of the pandemic.