'We must stand up and look for policy change': Black Lives Matter rally shares message of unity, ending racism

At least 1,000 people showed up to a rally against anti-black racism in Regina Sunday afternoon.

Large crowd turnout for third Black Lives Matter rally in Regina on Sunday

These colourful signs each took four hours to make. (Heidi Atter/CBC News)

At least 1,000 people showed up to a rally against anti-black racism in Regina Sunday afternoon.

Similar Black Lives Matter protests and rallies have popped up globally in solidarity against police brutality. These protests were sparked after an unarmed black man named George Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.

Participants met at the Saskatchewan Legislative at 1 p.m. where similar protests were held on Tuesday and Friday.

Organizers urged the participants to practice physical distancing and volunteers offered masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and water.

Many participants donned masks for the afternoon rally. (Matt Duguid/CBC News)

Many people spoke at the rally, sharing messages of uniting and ending racism in Saskatchewan and across the world.

One of the organizers of the event, Vibya Natana, said the rally was organized mainly by youth between the ages of 19 and 22.

"We represent not only our personal experiences but our collective history," Natana said.

The event had three main objectives, Natana said: celebrating blackness, addressing social issues and making progress.

Natana, who was born and raised in Regina, said Saskatchewan is home for her and many other people in the black community.

"We're interested in working in collaboration with other cultural communities, other different representations that we have here in our city to work to make it better for everyone because it's not only a black issue," Natana said.

"When we're able to contribute to the well-being of our society within our cultural communities, it definitely spills out into our entire society to make Saskatchewan a better place for everyone."

Vibya Natana, one of the organizers of the event, said recent events have definitely helped the black community in Regina stay focused and centered on certain issues. (Jennifer Francis/CBC News)

Another one of the speakers was Rhonda Rosenburg, the executive director of the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan. She gave a speech that emphasized the importance of rejecting all different kinds of racism.

"Racism is one of the things that we need to talk about all the time," Rosenburg said to a growing crowd of people near the beginning of the rally. "We can change policy, people can change policy, we must stand up and look for policy change."

Rosenburg said systemic racism exists in the province everywhere, in places like the healthcare system, the school system and the justice system.

"More than anything, what I see here today and what we need to keep doing off the streets, in our homes, in our workplaces and in our schools is talk and come together," Rosenburg said. 

Couple Khalisha Romain and Zac Hanzuik have been together for five years. They were one of many couples who joined the rally on Sunday afternoon.

"This is how we make a change," Hanzuik said, referring to the peaceful atmosphere of the rally. "It's just calm, peaceful, this is how it's supposed to be."

When asked what changes they hope to see as a result of the rally, Romain said she hopes to see changes in the government.

"There's a lot of systemic racism that goes on, a lot of leaders that are not listening to the people," Romain said. "I just want to see change in that and then it'll just trickle down to the people and hopefully that can be what we need."

Hanzuik said he was impressed with how multicultural the rally was and how everyone came together.

"I think the whole world wants to see everybody [come together] and just be happy together," Hanzuik said.

Khalisha Romain and Zac Hanzuik attended the rally together. They say they came out to support change within the community when it comes to ending racism. (Jennifer Francis/CBC News)

With files from Bryan Eneas, Heidi Atter and Matt Dugiud