Hundreds protested in downtown Abbotsford Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrations elsewhere in North America. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Hundreds protested in downtown Abbotsford Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrations elsewhere in North America. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

PHOTOS: Hundreds demonstrate in Abbotsford for end to racism

Protest in city’s historic downtown was largest demonstration in recent memory

In one of the largest demonstrations in Abbotsford’s history, hundreds of people protested this afternoon in the city’s historic downtown to call for an end to racism.

The demonstration, along Essendene Avenue, was peaceful and mostly featured those present waving signs towards motorists passing through the area as music blasted from a nearby speaker. Demonstrators – almost all of whom wore masks – were serenaded by large numbers of honks.

No police was present while The News was present. More than half an hour of speeches were delivered by Black and Indigenous speakers.

Fify Loewen, who briefly attended the protest with her two sons and husband, said she became emotional seeing the show of support.

Loewen, who is Black and moved to Abbotsford three years, says that “overall, my experience here has been amazing.” But she said the number of demonstrators gave her confidence that, if she did encounter trouble, there would be people standing with her.

“I know that people are like ‘Enough is enough.’ To see people standing up and saying ‘No, we will not be silent, we see you, we hear you, we’re listening,’ That was really impactful.’”

And she said she hopes they are a sign that her sons, aged five and eight, won’t face barriers just because of their skin colour.

“I want them to grow up in a world where they have access to similar justice, they have equal rights as everybody else. I don’t expect them to get a pass, but I want them to have a fighting chance just like everybody else.”

Juwa Itto said seeing thousands across the continent protest over the past week was exciting. Itto and her friend, Sarah Mills, had begun talking about racism and injustice the previous year.

“I never thought in my entire life I would get to experience such an outpour,” she said. “The world finally gets the lesson: you’re a full citizen, you can’t turn a blind eye to it. You’re forced to come face to face with reality.”

Itto and Mills, both of whom are Black, said there are also important parallels between the experiences of Black people in the United States and Indigenous people in Canada.

“Just as we’re trying to find justice for the Black community in the States, I feel we should do the same thing with our Indigenous community,” Itto said. “Because we’ve seen some of the conditions that they’re in. They’re very similar and it’s not fair to cry out for one community when in our own country we have something that’s very similar to it.”

Mills said she hoped the protests would be a catalyst for further change.

“This is how we can all come together and take a step forward.”

For Loewen, the protests are important and impactful. But she warned that they are the start, not the end, of the struggle against racism.

“I’m starting to educate myself,” she said. “To not just be a non-racist but to be an anti-racist. If we can educate ourselves so we can identify racism, we’ll be able to stop it when it happens … Now the hard work begins.”

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Hundreds protested in downtown Abbotsford Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrations elsewhere in North America. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Hundreds protested in downtown Abbotsford Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrations elsewhere in North America. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Hundreds protested in downtown Abbotsford Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrations elsewhere in North America. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Hundreds protested in downtown Abbotsford Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrations elsewhere in North America. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Hundreds protested in downtown Abbotsford Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrations elsewhere in North America. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Hundreds protested in downtown Abbotsford Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrations elsewhere in North America. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Hundreds protested in downtown Abbotsford Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrations elsewhere in North America. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Hundreds protested in downtown Abbotsford Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrations elsewhere in North America. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Hundreds protested in downtown Abbotsford Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrations elsewhere in North America. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Hundreds protested in downtown Abbotsford Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrations elsewhere in North America. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Hundreds protested in downtown Abbotsford Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrations elsewhere in North America. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Hundreds protested in downtown Abbotsford Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrations elsewhere in North America. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Hundreds protested in downtown Abbotsford Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrations elsewhere in North America. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Hundreds protested in downtown Abbotsford Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrations elsewhere in North America. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Hundreds protested in downtown Abbotsford Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrations elsewhere in North America. Photo by Elizabeth Dagg

Hundreds protested in downtown Abbotsford Friday afternoon in solidarity with demonstrations elsewhere in North America. Photo by Elizabeth Dagg

Just Posted

Alina Durham, mother of Shaelene Bell, lights candles on behalf of Bell’s two sons during a vigil on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO and PHOTOS: Candlelight vigil for Shaelene Bell of Chilliwack sends message of hope

Small group of family, friends gathered to shine light for 23-year-old mother missing for four weeks

The Great Bear Snowshed on the Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) in British Columbia. Truck driver Roy McCormack testified in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack on Feb. 25, 2021 that his brakes started smoking in about this location, and soon after he lost all braking, which led to a multi-vehicle crash further down the road on Aug. 5, 2016. (GoogleMaps)
Truck driver charged in Coquihalla crash showed ‘wanton and reckless disregard for other people’s lives’: Crown

Despite already having brake issues, Roy McCormack tackled the steepest hill on the infamous highway

Abbotsford International Airport. Black Press file photo.
Abbotsford Airport had 4th highest traffic in Canada in 2020, and its number are down

Statistics Canada report describes a ‘devastating year’ for air travel

(Black Press - file photo)
WEATHER: Enjoy the sun today, prepare for a week of rain

Clouds and rain to arrive by evening, Environment Canada forecasts

Chilliwack’s Ryan Wugalter with his kids, three-year-old Mira and 15-month-old Solomon. Wugalter recently released his children’s album Super Giraffe. (Submitted)
Chilliwack father releases children’s album, songs about superhero giraffe and not eating magnets

Inspiration for Ryan Wugalter’s new album ‘Super Giraffe’ came from his two young kids

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

Judith Uwamahoro is Black, approximately 4’7″ tall, 80 pounds and has short black hair and brown eyes. (Surrey RCMP handout)
UPDATED: Lower Mainland 9-year-old located after police make public plea

Judith Uwamahoro went missing Friday at around 4 p.m. in Surrey

Five-year-old Nancy Murphy wears a full mask and face shield as she waits in line for her kindergarten class to enter school during the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Variant of concern linked to COVID-19 outbreak at three Surrey schools

Cases appear to be linked to community transmissions, but schools will remain open

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Most Read