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PHOTOS: Emotions run high at Tofino’s anti-racism rally

Hundreds of demonstrators stand in solidarity for missing and murdered indigenous women

Hashtag Tofino, British Columbia, Monday afternoon, June 8.

A man wearing a wetsuit carries a boogie board through a crowd of over 400 peaceful demonstrators gathered on Tofino’s Village Green. ‘Chantel deserved help not bullets’ reads the back of his boogie board. June 8 is World Oceans Day 2020.

Tuff City Radio’s host and owner Cameron Dennison approached the scene with a heavy heart. He said he is missing his friend Dylan Roberts who suddenly passed away this May during covid-19 self-isolation.

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elder Levi Martin opened the anti-racism rally with a traditional chanting prayer. Sayeh Martin then took to the megaphone enraged by the fatal shooting of her family member Chantel Moore by a police officer. Sayeh tells the crowd in tears that on this morning she also had to say goodbye to her father, Eugene Martin who was known as ‘Gino’.

Sayeh leads the anti-racism march down to Tofino’s First Street Dock with Cameron Graham who is dressed in a traditional First Nations shawl. They are flanked by friends and family carrying signs that read “ If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor’ and ‘Equality feels like oppression to the privileged’.

On the First Street Dock, the demonstrators lay down for nine minutes to symbolize how long police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck. Crying noises are heard over the water.

“I need some water or something. I can’t breath. Please. You’re going to kill me man,” a voice on the megaphone echoed Floyd’s last words.

A few short moments after the nine minutes of silence on the dock, an ambulance appeared at the top of the hill and the demonstrators are asked to swiftly clear the dock for a medical emergency.

Tsimka Martin says she is upset about losing her niece, and that many of her family members are headed to New Brunswick to be with the family of Chantel.

The demonstrators continued their peaceful protest for equality and justice throughout the streets of Tofino towards the community’s new $10 million RCMP detachment. Officers stood outside the building like guards.

A red dress swayed in the tree in front of one RCMP officer while a young white female demonstrator marched by Campbell and Third Street carrying a sign that read: ‘Nurses, paramedics, social workers, are all trained to deescalate without force and guns, Defund the police.’

Tofino’s anti-racism march concludes with powerful, yet haunting speeches from Indigenous woman and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation leaders. Traditional drumming resonates over the Village Green – a song of love, a song of war, and a song for women rising – as the community gathered in solidarity and listened with open minds.

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