A surge of support from across Canada means an Innisfail protest against racism is now back on.
While negative feedback about the event caused the rally’s organizer to announce a postponement earlier this week, people from across the province — and country — have since been rallying around Brittany Bovey and her planned anti-racism demonstration.
With so much “overwhelming” support and encouragement, Bovey announced Tuesday the rally is going ahead.
Albertans from across the province are planning to attend Saturday’s protest, which will be held from noon to 3 p.m. on the green space next to John’s No Frills store (5080 43rd Ave.) in Innisfail.
Bovey was previously disheartened to receive many intolerant comments through social media.
People had suggested racism doesn’t exist in Innisfail and questioned the need for the rally.
Others disparaged the Black Lives Matter movement, calling it a terrorist organization — and a few even suggested that George Floyd, who died struggling for breath under a policeman’s knee in Minnesota on May 25, deserved his fate.
“It was revolting,” said Bovey.
Most recent comments on her Facebook page express different views.
“It saddens me that we have such ignorance and meanness in Canada,” wrote John Gabor. “But at the same time, know that there are millions of Canadians who support your efforts.”
“Just throwing some support your way from southwestern Ontario,” posted Brent McPherson, who feels Indigenous citizens and other minorities need other Canadians to speak up against racism.
Bovey prefers focusing on the positive.
“I don’t want to point fingers at anyone,” said the political science graduate, but she knows racism exists in many Canadian communities.
Bovey was alerted to it while attending university in Lethbridge, where a squad of people called The Watch routinely oust homeless people, including Indigenous citizens, from the downtown.
It was “shocking” to hear people in authority talk down to First Nations people, said Bovey, who’s heard similar comments made in her hometown.
Among the Innisfail rally’s many supporters are Tara Beagan, who posted: “I’m a Nlaka’pamux woman who grew up in Innisfail. Anything I can do to help, I’m with you.”
Mohamed Wali wrote, “Thanks for your humanity,” while Nanbo Bojambo commented: “You’re doing what’s right, Brittany. With real Canadian spirit!”
As some people might show up to oppose the rally, Bovey plans to talk to local police to ensure it is a peaceful protest.
Innisfail Mayor Jim Romane says he has misgivings about large crowds gathering and spreading COVID-19, and hopes attendees follow public health guidelines.
He says the town of 8,000 stands against racism, but he’s never known it to be an issue during his 40 years there.
Romane added that he didn’t mean to detract from the Black Lives Matter cause when he said in an interview with a Calgary newspaper that “all lives matter.”
“I meant to say that everybody’s equal, so why all of a sudden do black lives seem to be predominant over anybody else? I just put everybody on the same level playing field,” he said Tuesday.
— With a file from The Canadian Press.