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Black Lives Matter activists say now is the time to act on promises from 2020

Activists say it is now time to put pressure on politicians and businesses that made promises at the height of the last year's renewed BLM movement to take measurable action toward permanently changing Canada’s policies, systems, and spaces that maintain anti-Black racism.

'Where are those changes?' It's time to increase pressure on politicians and businesses, activists say

A protester holds up a sign during a Black Lives Matter march in London, Britain, June 28, 2020. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

At the height of the renewed Black Lives Matter movement last summer, Canada saw its prime minister and Toronto's former chief of police take a knee in the middle of protests. They saw premiers tweet promises to fight anti-Black racism. They saw businesses join other Canadians in posting black squares with statements of solidarity to Instagram feeds on #BlackoutTuesday. 

Nine months later, during a month that commemorates Black history in this country, activists such as Rodney Diverlus of Black Lives Matter Canada who are still working behind the scenes want to know: Where are those changes?

"What has yet to be seen is the mass change and the mass transformation of our systems that we have asked for," Diverlus said.

Watch: Black Lives Matter activists in Canada say the time to act is now. Here's why:

What the Black Lives Matter movement looks like in 2021

2 months ago
8:35
Activists say it is now time to put pressure on politicians and businesses that made promises last year to take quantifiable action toward making Canada anti-racist. 8:35

Diverlus and other BLM activists say the time is now to dial up pressure on those politicians and businesses that made commitments to change the policies and institutions that maintain anti-Black racism in Canada.

Adora Nwofor, president of Black Lives Matter YYC in Calgary, says her organization and others across the country aren't waiting on politicians. Instead, they're investing in Black communities themselves.

"We are specifically working on mentorship programs, getting some funding, trying to promote some Black joy," said Nwofor. 

Diverlus says it's important to remember anti-Black racism work and calling on leaders to act isn't just the responsibility of Black people. The work doesn't end once strategic plans are made, he said.

"This is a lifelong journey," he said. "We have to commit ourselves beyond reading one book about anti-Black racism. We actually have to commit ourselves for life."


On Feb. 27, CBC News brings you a half-hour special called Being Black in Canada. Hosted by Asha Tomlinson, it's a look at the challenges facing Black Canadians in this time of racial reckoning, with people continuing their journey for social justice. You can watch at 4:30 p.m. ET on cbcnews.ca, CBC News Network and CBC Gem, our streaming service.

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