Canadians continued to rally and demonstrate against racism and police brutality on Saturday, a day after thousands attended protests and vigils across the country.
The demonstrations follow days of protests across the U.S. over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis, Minn. A police officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
Many are calling for police reform and an end to systemic racism.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam on Friday urged demonstrators to “take care of themselves” and follow public health guidelines such as physical distancing as much as possible and using hand sanitizers.
Read on to see what’s happening around Canada.
Thousands demonstrated in two separate protests in Toronto against racism. The first protest began at Nathan Phillips Square, while the second began at Trinity Bellwoods Park.
Twanna Lewis, a Toronto resident at Trinity Bellwoods Park, said she was protesting for the first time on Saturday because she felt the need to take a stand for people who are voiceless. She has an 18-year-old black son, cousins, uncles and a brother.
“It’s 2020 and we need to be doing better,” Lewis told CBC Toronto. “It’s a shame that we have to be having this conversation in this day and age, when we think that we have gone so far.”
WATCH | Protesters march through Toronto:
At Nathan Phillips Square, demonstrators chanted, held placards and posters, and listened to speakers. Then the protesters marched to the U.S. consulate and onward to Yonge-Dundas Square.
“I can’t breathe,” the crowd chanted at one point at Nathan Phillips Square, in a reference to some of Floyd’s last words before his death on May 25.
People held up signs that read “No Justice No Peace” and “Yes it’s here too Ford.” Ontario Premier Doug Ford had said Canada doesn’t have the “systemic, deep roots” of racism as the U.S.
WATCH | Protesters, police speak at Toronto demonstration:
Thousands of people kneeled on the lawn of Confederation Building in St. John’s during a rally in support of the Black Lives Matter.
The rally, organized by newly established Black Lives Matter NL, featured speeches and performances from members of the area’s black community sharing their own stories of racism.
Crowds were able to physically distance during the rally, spreading themselves across the lawn of Confederation Building. There was a small police presence, but no incidents were reported.
Zainab Jerrett, who came to Newfoundland in the 1990s and is a professor at Memorial University, was one of the speakers on stage and was overwhelmed by the public support.
“That shows that this problem is effecting everybody, and everyone wants to chip in to bring a solution,” Jerrett said. “I almost got emotional because there’s so many people … young people of all cultures in Newfoundland.”
“This is an awakening. The people are interested in listening to the black community” she added. “[But] we are all the same. The more we come together as a human race, the better.”
“I am almost speechless. I am about to cry,” she says. “I feel like I am a Newfoundlander in spirit and soul.” <br><br>The audience yells back at her “you are!” <a href=”https://t.co/rZXj08NvIT”>pic.twitter.com/rZXj08NvIT</a>
A vigil is scheduled for 4 p.m. MT outside Calgary’s Olympic Plaza in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
“We must all come together to speak against murders by police officers and the institutions defending them,” organizers said in a Facebook post.
They also encourage attendees to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines like wearing masks and physical distancing.
Thousands attended a similar demonstration in Calgary on Wednesday.
Fort McMurray, Alta.
Elsewhere in Alberta, a Black Lives Matter rally was held at Fort McMurray City Hall.
The rally comes as Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam says Wood Buffalo RCMP officers beat and arrested him in a Fort McMurray parking lot earlier this year.
In London, Ont., hundreds gathered at Victoria Park for an anti-racism rally.
Mayor Ed Holder said he supports the purpose behind the rally but declined to attend in person to comply with physical distancing rules recommended by health authorities in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Hundreds of Londoners are here at Victoria Park for an anti-black racism protest <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/LdnOnt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#LdnOnt</a> <a href=”https://t.co/PVevHrYQGV”>pic.twitter.com/PVevHrYQGV</a>
Rally is so big it fits down Queens Street, around the block in both directions. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/LdnOnt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#LdnOnt</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/BLM?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#BLM</a> <a href=”https://t.co/3a6bzJFVwy”>pic.twitter.com/3a6bzJFVwy</a>
Volunteers handed out bottles of water and squirts of hand sanitizer to marchers in Guelph, Ont., as thousands of demonstrators descended upon city hall. Organizer took COVID-19 precautions after health officials urged protesters to adhere to public health protocols.
A similar demonstration in Kitchener on Wednesday saw thousands of people walk through the downtown core holding signs.