Hundreds of people showed solidarity towards Black Lives Matter in various cities across the West Island within the last 2 weeks. Kathleen McAdams and Allison Saunders, organizers of the Pointe-Claire Take a Knee event on June 14th, called on citizens to continue taking a stand and to reach out to their local officials. The West Island blog also publicly hosted a Take a Knee event in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue on June 18th. Public speakers note how important it is to not only look towards the injustices in big cities like downtown Montreal, but also towards our own West Island community and take notice on the systemic racism here in the suburbs.
“This is going to be hard! It's going to be uncomfortable. There will be tears. I already shared some with my councillor Cynthia... We're going to have to get COMFORTABLE WITH BEING UNCOMFORTABLE. Because that is where the magic lies. THAT IS WHERE CHANGE CAN HAPPEN.” proclaimed organizer Allison Saunders.
John Belevedere, mayor of Pointe-Claire, amongst other councillors made an official statement on June 11th announcing their stance to improve the inclusivity of diverse voices in the community. At the Pointe-Claire event on June 14th, this was clarified again by its officials stating: “We the citizens of Pointe-Claire to hold you accountable to that statement by which you should be proud! We can’t change what happened but we can change what happens next! And while dialogues go both ways, I’m hoping that we can find time and space to have some community conversations where our concerns are heard and solutions are co-created.”
Other cities in the West Island have made public statements addressing racial discrimination and the existence of systemic racism. Here is a link to each of their press releases below:
The Pointe-Claire “Take a Knee” 2 minutes of silent reflection was led by Reverend Christopher Belle as he made a community healing prayer to the public. Whereas in Ste-Anne's the guest speakers present was Kemba Mitchell, chairperson of the West Island Black Community Association (WIBCA) and poet Nathalyrmène Rousseau; in which they led the event with their powerful speeches.
The West Island community calls on change from the mayors, but also from our very neighbours. What ways can the West Island make a change? Maybe it can be as simple as diversifying your book club and listening to other voices. By hearing stories that might seem unfamiliar to you and your bubble, you can help start this important conversation with friends and family. Organizer Allison Saunders notes that when we help this community, it’s a ripple effect and the communities around us will just get better and stronger. WIBCA chairperson Kemba Mitchell notes the importance of allyship in support of Black Lives Matter, but further states that this allyship needs to be for the long haul.
Take a look at the video above to know more about what happened at both the Pointe-Claire and Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue Take a Knee event.