Black Lives Matter Sudbury reflects on first year of local activism –

It's been just over a year since a group of activists in Greater Sudbury got together to rally for the rights of the BIPOCcommunity and join agrowing national and international movement.

Late last spring, the Black Lives Matter Sudbury chapter first formed. The group has since organized rallies and conferences, conducted educational campaigns, and advocated to the local government.

For presidentRa'anaa Brown, it was in May 2020 when she took part in a rally at the Sudbury courthouse, that she wanted to increase her involvement in local activism.

"I saw a lot of activists I had never seen before in town," she said.

Brown had been doing thesis-based research on Black people on the history of art and activism in the United States.

"I felt like it was so perfectly aligned, and I really wanted to get involved and learn more in the movement. And the rest is history."

Ruva Gwekwereresays she had been involved in activism since she was in high school, but it was whilewatching the Black Lives Matter movement grow during the summer of 2020, that led her to want to make sure that was happening locally.

"As a Black person living in the north I was able to see how these issues at home were really potent," she said.

"If I was going to be an activist I couldn't just engage with issues that were happening internationally, I had to engage with local issues as well."

"That's where Black Lives Matter came in and became a really compelling place where I could do that local activism work," Gwekwerere said.

She says there are several issues that are unique to the north, but there are others that are universal across North America, particularly issues with black communities and policing.

Gwekwerere gives examples of problems like police brutality, racial screening and over-policing in BIPOC communities.

"Those are issues that we really need to solve, even in Sudbury," she said.

"Sometimes as activists we feel like our words kind of fall on deaf ears," Brown said, referring to a September presentation the group made to Sudbury City Council. Issues included defunding the police, opportunities for BIPOC artists, and after-school programs for BIPOC youth.

"It's kind of unfortunate that we haven't been able to see the changes," she said.

However, membership within Black Lives Matter Sudbury, and the overall response from the Sudbury community has been positive.

Brown says when the group was first formed there were many folks who denied racism was a problem in Sudbury.

"With the work that Black Lives Matter has been doing pushing forward in this huge educational movement and making people understand that systemic racism is embedded within the foundations of our society and within our city people are starting to see that this does exist," Brown said.

"The community is showing up for us."

To mark its first anniversary, Black Lives Matter Sudbury is holding a rally at Tom Davies Square, starting at 4 p.m today.

"This is an opportunity for us to reflect on all that Black Lives Matter Sudbury has done in the past year, but also thinking about the changes that still need to come, and reflecting on what is still to come in our city," Brown said.

The group has also partnered with Public Health Sudbury and Districts to hold a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic. It's meant for people who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of colour.

"Statistics have found that Black and Indigenous people of colour have a higher rate of hospitalization and death in Canada," Gwekwerere said. "So we really wanted to make sure that we are addressing those systemic issues."

The vaccine clinic is being held at Tom Davies Square at the same time as the rally. Sixty doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available.

Morning North10:34Black Lives Matter Sudbury marks its first anniversary

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Black Lives Matter Sudbury reflects on first year of local activism -

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