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  • Members of Black Lives Matter - Vancouver at their visibility and solidarity event

    Members of Black Lives Matter - Vancouver at their visibility and solidarity event | Photo: Mwango Moragia

Published 26 April 2016

Black Lives Matter activists in Vancouver are hoping to make Vancouver’s Black community visible again.

What started off as a Facebook page has now quickly grown into a movement.

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The second chapter of Black Lives Matter in Canada has been met with a surge of support. Led mostly by a collective of passionate Black women in Vancouver, the group raised over US$1,000 in just a few short days.

Standing in solidarity with Toronto and the chapter’s fight against police surveillance of Black communities, the group started off online sharing Black Lives Matter – Toronto’s content.

“We began a chapter here in Vancouver because of events happening both in Canada and the United States,” said Holly Bishu, a member of the collective.

Attendees of the Vancouver chapter's first event | Photo: Ohi Akpengbe

With the success of their GoFundMe campaign, the collective decided to hold a visibility and solidarity campaigns, with one held on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery last week.

Hundreds attended the event, which featured speeches and performances by members from both the Black and Indigenous communities.

“We really wanted to include Indigenous folks and show solidarity for the struggles of their communities, especially as this was happening at the same time as the Attawapiskat suicide crisis, so it was important for us to show out and say we are there for them,” said co-founder Cicely Blain. “As caretakers of this land we are so grateful that they have welcomed us into their community and their spaces and we hope to strengthen that relationship.”

Indigenous rapper JB the First Lady | Photo: Ohi Akpengbe

With the arrival of summer, the group has a number of ideas for the way forward and to build on their momentum.

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They hope to raise awareness and tackle Vancouver-specific issues, such as high living costs and growing gentrification, racist and exclusionary Canadian immigration policies, while uplifting Black queer and trans voices.

Blain said interest in the group skyrocketed after their first event.

“We had a lot of people wanting to get involved,” she said. “So now we have more folks from (the suburbs), more queer and trans people, and some men of color too.”

The "Blackness Is..." photo campaign | Photo: Mwango Moragia

The group is looking to take part in the Vancouver Queer Film Festival and focus on Black LGBTQ issues.

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