“Now is not the time to celebrate,” says Nova Stevens, co-founder of Freedom March Vancouver. She and Shamika Mitchell organized the Juneteenth March last month, which brought over 6,000 people together to protest systemic racism and police brutality. “There is still so much to be done,” agrees Mitchell. “We are happy that conversations are starting, but we want to make sure that people understand that this is a marathon, not a sprint.”
The marathon continues with another march this Saturday, August 1. Like the Juneteenth March, the Emancipation Day March will begin at Jack Poole Plaza, go south along Thurlow Street, and end at Sunset Beach Park. August 1, 1834, marks the day that enslavement was officially abolished in most British colonies, Canada included. According to Freedom March Vancouver, this march is both to acknowledge small victories and continue the fight for justice.
Stevens and Mitchell both stress the importance of everyone keeping the movement going, and remind us just how personal racial injustice—even in America—is in Vancouver. “We have nephews that could be Trayvon Martin. We have uncles that could be George Floyd. We have aunts and cousins and sisters who could be Breonna Taylor. This is very close to home for all of us,” says Stevens. “None of us are invincible.”
Mitchell says she hopes that Saturday’s event is a safe and powerful march, with all participants wearing masks and socially distancing from one another. The same medics that volunteered at the Juneteenth March will be there, and disposable masks and hand sanitizer will be available. The march will finish with performances and speakers at Sunset Beach Park.
“We don’t want this to end after the march,” says Stevens, “this has to be a conversation until we can say we have dismantled racism as a whole.”
To donate to Freedom March Vancouver, go to their GoFundMe—proceeds will cover the cost of transporation, rental fees, barricades and fences, and other costs that are associated with planning the event.
The Emancipation Day March is this Saturday, August 1 at 1:00 p.m. at Jack Poole Plaza. Remember to wear your mask.