Black Lives Matter Sudbury (BLMS) hosted a Sunday Sit-In at Memorial Park this weekend to commemorate the anniversary of the Shelburne Race Riots of 1784 and emphasize that the movement they stand for, is still very much alive.
This was the first event held by the group since it began the process of becoming a recognized chapter of the international movement, and what organizers say will be one of many until changes are made in the Nickel City and beyond.
Sunday’s event began at Memorial Park around 2 p.m. with speeches by representatives of BLMS on the history and significance of what is considered the first race riot in North America’s history.
Attendees were then led through a social exercise to demonstrate privilege before the group presented their list of demands for the City of Greater Sudbury and the Province of Ontario to address these issues.
The collective then embarked on a march through the city’s core to Tom Davies Square, where they were provided with chalk and asked to write the group’s demands across the courtyard of the government building.
The nine demands presented surround the allocation of community funding as it relates to the Greater Sudbury Police Service, sexual violence resources, mental health resources, Black History Month, and youth programming. It also includes a call for acknowledgement of systemic racism and white privilege, and equal representation of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) community within the arts and GSPS board of directors.
Ra’anaa Brown, co-president of BLMS said these are but the first of a long list of changes the group hopes to encourage in the community and beyond. More recommendations to encourage equality are to be released at a later date, once the following prioritized goals have been realized.
The demands presented Sunday are as follows:
- Defund the GSPS
- Black Lives Matter Sudbury (BLMS) demands the Greater City of Sudbury and Council to immediately redirect a substantial portion of the $62 million GSPS budget.
- Acknowledge systemic racism and white privilege
- BLMS calls upon the City of Greater Sudbury to acknowledge the existence of systemic racism and white privilege in the governance of the city by all elected representatives and officials.
- Sexual violence resources to support marginalized communities
- BLMS calls upon the City of Greater Sudbury and Council for increased funding and creation of 24-hour sexual violence hotlines to support marginalized and 2SLGBTQ+ communities.
- Standardize the use of mental health professionals
- BLMS calls upon the Province of Ontario and the City of Greater Sudbury to adopt the standardized use of trained social workers, mental health professionals, and paramedics to resolve mental health/ psychiatric distress wellness checks and other forms of crisis.
- Representation for BIPOC artists
- BLMS calls upon the City of Greater Sudbury, Council, and the Sudbury Public Art Advisory Panel for an appropriate level of inclusion of Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) representation in public spaces.
- Representation in governance
- BLMS calls for an immediate review of the composition of the Greater Sudbury Police Services Board to include persons of BIPOC backgrounds to help address systemic racism in policing in Greater Sudbury.
- Funding for culturally responsive mental health resources
- BLMS calls upon the Province of Ontario and the City of Greater Sudbury to provide adequate funding for culturally responsive, community-centric mental health centres and services.
- Embrace Black Canadian history
- BLMS calls upon the City of Greater Sudbury for the funding of a meaningful Black History Month. Not only to advocate for social justice and change but to educate and share with individuals who wish to learn more about culture and ethnicity.
- Programming for Black and Indigenous youth
- BLMS calls upon the Province of Ontario and the City of Greater Sudbury to aid in the funding and promotion of existing culturally responsive after-school programming, and further implement said programming for Black and Indigenous Youth.