20 March 2017
CANADA: Rally to end Islamophobia
I am deeply humbled to stand
beside all of you today, as we continue to confront Islamophobia, fascism and
white supremacy – in all its manifestations.
Yet, I also recognize who I am, and the land on which we stand.
I am white. I am a settler. And I
was born in a country that exists because of the genocide of Indigenous people
and the dispossession of Indigenous land. I recognize that, today, we gather on
that stolen land. Land that has never been willingly given up nor ever been relinquished,
despite what white historians may tell us.
And as we gather here today, it
is important to remember this land’s history, and the country that was built on
it, it is important to remember its history especially when there are so many
who work to rewrite it. It is important to remember this country’s history so
we can one day stop repeating it.
This country was never built on
values of freedom for all. Rather, it was built on the genocide of Indigenous inhabitants
and the oppression of racialized people. It was built on sexual violence
against women and built on the exploitation of the worker. This is this country’s
history but it is also acutely felt and experienced in its present.
Photo Credit: Murray Lumley.
The last few years in Canada,
attacks on Muslims have tripled. We remember and mourn the six men killed in
the Sept Illes Mosque Massacre; six men, who were killed while they knelt to
pray- murdered because of who they were. We stand in solidarity with the Reign
of Islamic Da’wah Center which was attacked by arson three days ago.
Depressingly we are seeing a growing number of hate crimes in Toronto and
across Canada. Hate crimes against Jewish people, Muslims and all People of
Colour. White supremacy is sadly and undeniably on the rise.
Yet, despite this sadness, and
knowing both a history and present of violence in this country, today I also
feel hopeful. Hopeful that this reality of hatred and domination can change.
Hopeful, because 3 weeks ago tens of thousands of people across Canada gathered
together to say that these values have no place in our communities. Hopeful because thousands of people have
gathered over the previous weeks to say ‘no’, no to Islamophobia. And I am hopeful because today we have
gathered together to confront islamophobia, in its physical manifestation.
The ultra-right has always used
fear. Fear to try to oppress us, intimidate us and divide us. It is with this
fear that they mobilize and through this fear they organize. Yet today we are
here to say that we know the history of this country’s violence and the current
realities of its oppresion. We are here to say that we are going to out-mobilize
and out-organize so that this will not be our future.
Photo Credit: Murray Lumley.
Today we gather in the spirit of
resistance. We resist the acts and policies of violence and hatred. Resistance
means building coalitions and radical relationships of solidarity across
religion, race, class, and gender. Resistance to this system means that some
people, such as myself, give up our privileges. Resistance means that we gather
on each other’s picket lines and eliminate police harassment and police
violence in racialized communities. It
means that we promise each other, that if someone threatens our communities or
surrounds a Mosque, we will be there first to say that islamophobia and white
supremacy are not welcome and will not be tolerated. Today we commit ourselves
to organize, to mobilize, to reach out and to educate . To build a future
towards liberation. To build a future that is just. And to build a future of
real freedom and where all people can live in peace.