Calgarians vow to challenge fascism after deadly Charlottesville rally

Carrying signs that read "Love trumps hate" and "Silence is compliance," more than 100 people gathered at a vigil outside Calgary City Hall Wednesday night to stand in solidarity against racism.

'Racism is much more prevalent than we like to imagine, or we'd like to believe'

More than 100 Calgarians turned out to the vigil outside city hall to both honour the memory of Heather Heyer and stand in solidarity against fascism. ((Rebecca Kelly/CBC))

Carrying signs that read "Love trumps hate" and "Silence is compliance," more than 100 people gathered outside Calgary City Hall Wednesday night to stand in solidarity against racism.

The candlelight vigil was held in response to the deadly rally led by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va., where a car plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing American Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others Saturday.

"This courageous woman died standing up against hatred," said Skyler Scarred, with the Calgary Anti-Fascist Action group who organized the event.

"Here in Canada, we see that same kind of violence coming from groups here, so we had to hold this vigil here for her today to honour her memory and who she was as a person."

Saddened but not surprised

Between the singing and speaking at the open mic, many participants expressed sadness but not surprise at the Charlottesville events.

"I think that is racism is much more prevalent than we like to imagine, or we'd like to believe," said Maria Arseniuk. "Trump has certainly emboldened people, but I don't think that this is anything new," she said.

She said it was important for her to attend the rally for two reasons.

"The first thing is I'd like to show people who are the most targeted by fascism — so people of colour, queer people, immigrants — that they do have allies. They do have support. They are loved and wanted," she explained.

"The second thing I'd like to achieve is to show the fascists that there is resistance to them, and they will not go unchallenged."

With files from Colleen Underwood and Rebecca Kelly