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Black Lives Matter Sudbury marches through the rain for equality

BLMS looking to advance discussions with city council and create positive change in Greater Sudbury

More than 50 Sudburians marched through the rain, crossing the BIPOC Lives Matter mural painted on Elgin Street during a rally held Sunday afternoon.

BLMS organizers gathered Sunday to reiterate their demands made to city council on Sept. 22.

The demands are as follows:

  • Black Lives Matter Sudbury calls upon the Greater City of Sudbury and Council to provide funding for the implementation of appropriate culturally sensitive programming for Black, Indigenous, and Youth of Colour. 
  • Black Lives Matter Sudbury calls upon the City of Greater Sudbury, Council, and all Arts and Culture organizations in the community for an appropriate level of inclusion of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) representation in public spaces including, but not limited to, murals, galleries, festivals and performance venues.
  • Black Lives Matter Sudbury demands that the City of Greater Sudbury and Council to immediately defund and redirect 10 per cent of the $62-million Sudbury taxpayer dollars utilized for the Greater Sudbury Police Service (GSPS) budget.

BLMS Sudbury co-president Ra-Anaa Brown felt that their demands fell on deaf ears when presented to council.

"We're here to mobilize the public and get everyone on board with us and also talk about why our demands our important, as well as showcase our beautiful mural," said Brown.

"We were kind of disappointed with the response (city council) gave us, some of the responses were very patronizing, there was a lot of silence so it wasn't the most ideal situation, our demands deal with education, the public sector and the arts, so we're excited to talk about it here."

Attending Sunday's march was a wide cross-section of the Sudbury community, with Sudburians of a multitude of races showing up to offer their support.

"This is an actual representation of what Sudbury is and we have to always keep that in mind," said BLMS co-president TiCarra Paquet. "Our demands specifically cater to our community, our constituents here, it's Sudburians trying to help other Sudburians and I think that's what's important here."

Darius Garneau, BLMS director of policy and development spoke to the demand to defund the Greater Sudbury Police and redirect 10 per cent of their budget to other services.

"Funding social services and mental health services, as well as cutting down on the responsibilities of police officers...there are many more groups that are better prepared to take on the tasks that police officers are doing right now," said Garneau.

"Mental health wellness checks, domestic violence, drug overdoses, I think that these are all things that, with proper funding to social services, we don't need police officers in the equation and a lot of the time it's more harmful for individuals going through this stuff."

While disappointed in the response from council, Brown says that BLMS Sudbury is committed to continuing to work with the city in finding a way to move their demands in the right direction.

"We're in the process of discussing with council the possibility of having another meeting to hash out the demands and see how they can move them forward," said Brown. "While BLM brought these demands to council and backed them with research, it's not for us to delegate and tell them how this has to go step by step. So we're hoping to have this discussion with council of how they can create these positive changes."

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