Gathering in Saskatoon calls for justice for missing and murdered Indigenous people
One organizer is collecting signatures for petition to change Saskatchewan's Police Act
Around two dozen people in Saskatoon gathered in front of City Hall Saturday, calling for justice for murdered and missing Indigenous people.
The rally was organized by the mother of Jordan Lafond, Charmaine Dreaver.
Lafond died a day after a car chase with members of the Saskatoon Police Service in October 2016. The chase ended when the stolen truck Lafond was a passenger in hit a fence, ejecting the 22-year-old father.
Two Saskatoon police officers testified they struck Lafond — one stomping on his left hand, the other kneeing him four times in the head — as he lay on the ground following the crash.
Four years later, Dreaver is still calling for justice for her son. She's been collecting signatures for a petition to change Saskatchewan's Police Act.
"There's no civilian body to investigate the police when there's serious injury or death," she said Saturday.
"We want changes now. We don't want changes next week, next month, next year — we want them now."
There were several young people at the rally, which Dreaver said is heartening.
"This will affect us all as ... the future comes. So I think it's a great thing for the young to come and join us and to really understand what's going on in our world today."
17-year-old Shyan Arop said she attended the protest because racism has followed her throughout her life.
"Just because I'm Black, doesn't mean I shouldn't stand up for other people. They've stood up for me and I will always stand up for them," she said.
Arop said there's a disconnect when it comes to people understanding violence against people of colour.
"Because it hasn't happened to them, so many people don't understand that this stuff happens," she said. "I've had a fear of police since I was seven because of my own interaction with police when I was a little girl."
Arop said she hopes leaders take real action instead of "performative actions.
"We see them come out but where are the changes? Just because we've seen you come out and walk with us does not mean you're making changes where you're sitting in your offices and that needs to happen," she said.
Andrew Kingsley came to the gathering Saturday because he said it doesn't feel right not having a voice in the movement that's been building around the world for months.
"Silence is violence, at this point," he said.
Kingsley, an Indigenous man, said a lot of people he knows have suffered police brutality, and others he knows are missing or murdered.
"Canada's not innocent ourselves. This has been going on for years. This is our land that was essentially taken from us and if we don't fight for our rights then nobody else will," he said.
With files from Morgan Modjeski and Guy Quenneville