Red Deer was one of many communities around the world protesting racial inequality this summer.
A series of marches and anti-racism demonstrations were held following the death of George Floyd, who was pinned to the ground underneath the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
Three rallies were held in downtown Red Deer over during the first week of June. The first rally had about 100 people and the final one featured about 800 in City Hall Park.
“There is no place for (discrimination). Seeing everybody come together as a community, and how positive everyone is, and supporting one another, it’s absolutely amazing,” Cheryl Jaime, one of the organizers for the first and third rallies, told the Advocate following the third protest.
People who downplay the level of racism in Canada need to “educate” themselves, Jaime said.
“It is beyond real. It is absolutely everywhere. I don’t understand how you would want to downplay it. It is so present within society everywhere – literally everywhere,” she said.
Keanna Richards, one of the speakers during the third anti-racism rally, said she believes many people are unaware how common discrimination is in Canada.
“I think a lot of people assume that just because we’re not in the United States, that we don’t have to go through it. Although it might not be as bad, there are still prejudices that happen daily,” said Richards, who was born and raised in Red Deer.
Richards said seeing so many people come to the protest gives her “a lot of hope.”
“Seeing all these people here, and seeing people that I know coming to make a stand, show me there are people willing to do just that.”
Anti-racism rallies were held in other central Alberta communities this summer, including Innisfail and Lacombe.
A Red Deer anti-racism rally in September was marred by conflicts when counter-protestors and protestors clashed. Cell phone footage of physical altercations were posted online. Multiple people were charged following that event.
A couple of weeks later, hundreds marched through the streets of the downtown during the Red Deer Peace Walk. Police officers were on hand to block off the streets and a helicopter circled above the city’s downtown.