Marjorie Roden, Herald Contributor
Regina — In the wake of the death of George Floyd after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes in nearby Minnesota, the waves of outrage and protest were bound to sweep into Canada. Sure enough, they swept into Regina. What started out as a small request as a gathering turned into a huge rally on the steps of, and in front of, the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly on June 2nd.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which discourages large crowds of people from gathering together, hundreds of people crowded the steps of the Saskatchewan Legislature, the front lawn in front of the legislature and into the park across the street from the legislature. Many people from varying walks of life came out to support the efforts being made.
One such individual was Maria Omene, who has been “fighting this fight for a long time.”
“We have gone to the United Nations to bring justice and equality for black people, especially as it pertains to police brutality, employment, housing and medical services.”
“We shouldn’t be having the same issues as we had in the day of Martin Luther King’s days,” Omene said.
“It’s time for a change, and hopefully, the government, they are listening, and the change will happen,” Omene said, glancing significantly at the Legislative Assembly behind her.
A frustrated Omene added, “It didn’t happen in my lifetime, but hopefully, it comes in the lifetime of my children and grandchildren.”
Young leadership within the community of Regina were also there to speak up and make a stand in front of the Legislative Assembly. Outgoing University of Regina Students’ Union President Victor Oriola, who is originally from Africa, made an impassioned speech to the crowd.
“It is always ‘the moment’ to show up and speak out against injustices that exist, and failure to do so is an endorsement of the injustices that exist,” said Oriola after his speech, adding “History remembers the people that show up, and the people that have showed up today shall be remembered.”
Certainly, people came out, with signs and flags of support. One of those was Tanys June, who, along with her friend, each sported a flag to signify world peace.
“With everything going on, there shouldn’t be a split between who is more important. The justice system and all of these peacekeepers, aka cops, should be here to help everybody, not just a certain race.”
June added, “Even being here, a lot of people said, ‘Oh, don’t go because of the virus,’ but I look at it as it is. Everybody’s going to the mall like there’s no COVID-19. People are so excited for all the bars to open, and there’s no complaints about going to grocery stores, going anywhere, but when it comes to this…this shouldn’t be any different. This should be so much more important than those other activities I mentioned.”
Social distancing rules were being kept as much as possible as groups of people who came together stayed together, and the clumps of people who were there stayed six feet apart from other groups, whenever possible. Masks, water, hand sanitizer and gloves were handed out to all who attended, if they needed.
The next two rallies are planned in Regina for June 5th and 6th, in front of the Legislative Assembly building, and organizers stated during Tuesday’s rally that they hope to get a larger turnout.