Sudbury

Sudbury demonstration denounces racism in U.S., Canada

Wearing masks and keeping their distance, about 200 people gathered in front of the Sudbury courthouse Sunday evening, in solidarity with protests in the U.S. over George Floyd's death — and also calling out racism closer to home.

People gathered in Sudbury, amid days of protests and unrest in the U.S.

Following a rally in front of the courthouse, a number of demonstrators marched through downtown Sudbury. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

Wearing masks and keeping their distance, about 200 people gathered in front of the Sudbury courthouse Sunday evening, in solidarity with protests in the U.S. over George Floyd's death — and also calling out racism closer to home. 

Floyd, a black man, was killed last Monday by a white Minneapolis police officer, who pressed his knee on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes, by which point he had stopped breathing. Protests have broken out in cities throughout the U.S., focused both on Floyd's death, and the larger issues of racism and police brutality. 

"We know that if we don't speak out and speak back to the ways in which people are dehumanized, their dignity is taken away from them, we know if we don't do that we'll continue to see these kind of things happen," said Shana Calixte, who spoke at the Sudbury demonstration. 

"I just don't even know if I have it in me anymore to cry anymore."

Racism in Canada

While those at the Sudbury event spoke about what's happening in the U.S., they also talked about issues of racism in Canada. Many signs referenced the death of 29-year-old Regis Korchinski-Paquet, who fell from the 24th floor of a Toronto apartment building last Wednesday. 

Police had been called to the apartment prior to her death, and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is now investigating what happened. Korchinski-Paquet's mother has said she believes the police were to blame for her daughter's death.

One of Korchincki-Paquet's cousins, who lives in Sudbury, was at the rally Sunday. TiCarra Paquet attended along with her mother, Carrie Itwaru. 

While she wasn't in regular contact with the Korchinski-Paquet family, Itwaru said her family heard from them the night she died.

"My heart goes out to the Paquet and Korchinski family. And I really hope that they stick together and get through this," Itwaru said. 

TiCarra Paquet, a cousin of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, attended the demonstration with her mother, Carrie Itwaru. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

Paquet said she's been glad to see community support online, as well as in person.

"I just think that there's a lot of racial issues in Canada that's not really being addressed. But I think slowly but surely, the people are starting to make more awareness. But I think those who are leaders need to do more about it." 

'It could have been me'

For Ange José, the recent news cycle has been "overwhelming." She noted the news of Floyd's death came not long after another unarmed black man, Ahmaud Arbery, was shot while out jogging in Georgia. Then, there was Korchinski-Paquet. 

"It broke me, and I felt apart, because you know it could have been me," José said. 

"For whatever reason if I had an encounter with police I wouldn't feel safe enough to know that they were going to treat me fairly." 

Ange José says the recent news of the deaths of unarmed black people has taken an emotional toll. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

However, seeing the crowd gathered in front of the courthouse, José said she felt a sense of hope. She said she faced discrimination growing up in Sudbury, but she sees signs of changes.

"Being out here today and seeing all the people who have showed up, it just really goes to show that this city itself has moved forward so much. And you know, everyone's here to support each other and it's just beautiful." 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah MacMillan is a reporter with CBC Sudbury. She previously worked with CBC P.E.I. You can contact her at sarah.macmillan@cbc.ca

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