Montrealers take to the streets for anti-racism demonstration

The anti-racism march comes in the wake of the mosque shootings in New Zealand, and follows a similar one held in Quebec City on Saturday.

Several hundred people braved the cold Sunday afternoon for a peaceful protest

People gathered at St-Laurent Metro Sunday afternoon and marched along the Main. (CBC)

Several hundred people came out Sunday afternoon in Montreal to denounce racism and xenophobia, in the wake of the mosque shootings in New Zealand.

The anti-racism march follows a similar one held in Quebec City on Saturday.   

The event was also aimed at calling out xenophobia at home in Quebec. Organizers criticized the provincial government's push to ban the wearing of religious symbols for public servants.

Marlihan Lopez, vice president of the Quebec Women's Federation, said it's time for the province's discussion on systemic racism to move forward.

"I think the trouble here in Quebec is we're still having the conversation 'Is there racism in Quebec?' I think we need to get over it and take action," she said.

Marlihan Lopez is the vice-president of the Quebec Women's Federation. (Radio-Canada)

Lopez said it's important for her to be standing in solidarity with victims of the shooting in Christchurch, especially since people are still being affected by the 2017 mosque attack in Quebec City.

"We need to look at what happened in New Zealand last week and think of the people who died in Quebec City, and we need to pay attention to make sure we're not contributing to a toxic climate that threatens minority communities."

Safa Chebbe, one of the protest's organizers, said racism doesn't just exist on an individual level, and that systemic racism poses a big challenge that can't be ignored.

Referencing comments made by Premier François Legault in January, Chebbe said that the assumption that there is no Islamophobia in Quebec is to her, "insulting and disrespectful."

​Chebbe said she hopes marches like this one will put pressure on the government to reconsider policies like the religious symbols ban that she feels target racial minorities in the province. 

With files from Radio-Canada's Valérie-Micaela Bain