Canada’s story is told under an aspirational lens which often disguises the fact that racism is still alive and well in our country.
Canadians view their home as a safe haven for the principles of multiculturalism, acceptance and equity.
It would be a mistake, however, to view those aspirations as an achieved goal and the backlash seen around central Alberta to the Black Lives Matter movement is proof we still have a ways to go.
While the numbers of citizens peacefully protesting in Red Deer, Innisfail, Stettler and soon to be Lacombe have been growing and inspiring, so too have the voices of a small minority of detractors.
It can be tempting to look at multiculturalism and pluralism legislation in this country and think that Canada made anti-racism into law, pushed it into our bygone past and we have little to worry about — but the truth is, thinking racism is a relic of our ancestors is a dangerous and naive viewpoint that actively dismisses the racism experienced by Black, brown, Indigenous and people of colour in Canada.
Yes, we know Canadians want to believe that “All Lives Matter” but – as you’ve likely heard in repetition by now – all lives simply cannot matter until Black Lives Matter.
It is therefore important to stop looking at both those phrases as slogans shouted in the streets and take time to understand the full meaning behind them.
It is on all Canadians, Albertans and central Albertans to learn our own history of racism, intolerance and bigotry and then learn to actively fight against the idea we have already achieved our aspirations we hold so dearly in this country. Racism continues to be a blight on our identity and it is on everyone to actively eliminate it.
Multiculturalism, acceptance, tolerance, equity – these are all visions of a grander future that we cannot fully realize until we address the systemic issues racialized people still face in Canada.
In essence, it’s time we stop day-dreaming on what high school textbooks told us Canada already is and start building what it should be – that sought-after, aspirational home of cultural acceptance and love we all want.
A peaceful Lacombe Against Racism protest will be held in Lacombe on Friday, June 19 at 6 p.m. at the Lacombe Memorial Centre Park. Attendees are ask to follow social distancing guidelines, wear masks and stay at least 2 m apart.