Thunder Bay

Large crowd gathers for Black Lives Matter rally in Thunder Bay

Hundreds of people gathered at Waverley Park in Thunder Bay for a Black Lives Matter rally on Friday afternoon.

Group carried signs, chanted, as they marched around Waverley Park

Hundreds of people marched around Waverley Park, carrying signs and chanting, during a Black Lives Matter rally in Thunder Bay on Friday. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Hundreds of people gathered at Waverley Park in Thunder Bay for a Black Lives Matter rally on Friday afternoon.

The gathering was peaceful, with participants carrying signs with messages like "Black Lives Matter" and "Racism is a Canadian Problem," while chanting "Black lives matter" and "no justice no peace."

Getting underway just after 3 p.m., the gathering saw participants march up Waverley Street to Red River Road, around the former PACI building, and back into the park.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, participants wore face masks, and the City of Thunder Bay had earlier painted circles on the grass to encourage physical distancing.

No official city dignitaries made speeches, and police presence was minimal, with cruisers blocking off nearby streets for traffic control.

The rally was one of many that have taken place throughout Canada and the United States since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25.

Four Minneapolis police officers have been charged in connection with Floyd's death; one officer has been charged with second-degree murder, while the other three face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Some organizations based in and around Thunder Bay voiced support for Friday's rally.

The city had painted circles on the grass in Waverley Park to encourage physical distancing during Friday's rally. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

In a statement issued Friday, Thunder Bay's Anti-Racism and Respect Advisory Committee asserted its support for the rally, saying "peaceful protests and demonstrations are essential to encourage respectful conversation, educate ourselves and others, bring about change and challenge the status quo."

"It is imperative for the Anti-Racism & Respect Advisory Committee to stand with the racialized communities in our city, country and around the world," the statement continues. "What is happening today to black people in the USA and People of Colour, Indigenous people and all other races and ethnic groups that call Canada and our city home, should not be tolerated."

The rally began just after 3 p.m. on Friday. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) also issued a statement in support of the rally.

"We support all those who seek to end systemic racism in policing, and those who fight for civil rights, equality, and racial justice," NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said in the statement. "Nishnawbe Aski Nation stands in unity against racism and injustice in all of its forms."