Hundreds take to Yukon streets to protest anti-Black, anti-Indigenous racism

Protesters marched from the Healing Totem on the Whitehorse waterfront to the RCMP detachment, where they called out the names of Indigenous people who died in RCMP custody. In Dawson, at least 100 people marched along Front Street.

Marchers in Whitehorse and Dawson City call for action on racism, police defunding

Protesters against police brutality and anti-black racism stage a "die-in" in front of the CBC building in downtown Whitehorse Saturday. (Chris Windeyer/CBC)

Hundreds of demonstrators marched in Whitehorse and Dawson Saturday to protest anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism.

In Whitehorse, protesters marched from the totem on the city's waterfront to the RCMP detachment, where they called out the names of Indigenous people who died in RCMP custody. The Dakhká Khwáan Dancers performed in the middle of 4th Avenue.

"I want you today to feel this," restaurant owner Antoinette Green-Oliph told the crowd in Whitehorse. "I want you to feel it so deep in your heart that you don't just walk away, [so we're] not standing here four years from now doing the same damn thing."

Protesters also stopped at the CBC building on 3rd Avenue to call for a more representative media that does a better job of covering racialized communities.

Marchers blocked traffic downtown, but many drivers honked in support. The event was peaceful and there was no visible police presence. 

Racism a Canadian problem, too

Annie-Frédérique Pierre said the past week of processing racist violence has been "intense."

"Brutality against racialized people, Black people has been there for centuries," she said. "It is the basis of colonialism. And yes, Black and Indigenous people living on Turtle Island are as impacted by brutality as their friends and family in the U.S." 

Protesters against racism and police brutality march toward the Whitehorse RCMP headquarters. (Chris Windeyer/CBC)

There were numerous calls to defund the police and put that money into social services.

"We need community service officers who are unarmed," said Colin Wolf. "We need people going in when you have an argument with your friends and you're drunk you need people you can call who aren't going to come in and shoot you or punish you, who are gonna come in and help you."

Asad Chishti, one of the organizers, said the march was one of the largest Whitehorse has seen. While he was upbeat about the turnout, he said people of colour are frustrated by having to repeatedly protest racism and violence.

"I'd much rather be able to be working together on the environment rather than protesting yet another, you know, person of colour [killed by police]," he said. 

In Dawson City, at least 100 people marched along Front Street, chanting for justice and equality.

The marches were part of a global wave of protests against police brutality and anti-Black racism. The latest protests were reignited by the recent deaths of George Floyd, killed by a Minneapolis police officer, and Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a Black-Indigenous woman who died during an encounter with Toronto police.