CALGARY -- A couple hundred Calgarians from different racialized and marginalized communities gathered Saturday morning in front of the Peace Bridge to stand against racism and hate.

The ‘Building Bridges Against Racism’ Solidarity March saw members walk together as a way of condemning the surge of violent, hateful and racist incidences targeting Asian, Muslim, Black and Indigenous communities.

Saima Jamal with the Calgary Immigrant Support Society says the increase in assaults and threats has reached an all-time high and calls on others to take action.

“This is new, we never had anybody tear your hijab off, throw you on the ground, punch you on the face, kick you on the stomach and this is very scary,” Jamal said.

“It’s horrified the entire Muslim community and that is why we’re all here to say we’re not going to take this anymore; we have to put a stop on it right away.”

Saturday’s rally calls on public leaders to unequivocally condemn violent acts, such as this month’s recent brazen attack on a Muslim girl in Prince’s Island Park.

The list of demands includes:

  • Banning hate symbols;
  • Lowering the threshold for the definition of hate crimes;
  • Removing barriers to reporting hate crimes;
  • Providing support to victims; and
  • Establishing a provincial database to track hate incidents.

Members of Calgary’s Asian community agree following attacks on their people in the wake of the COVID-19 virus.

Cesar Cala with Fillipinos Rising for Inclusion and Equity to Nurture Democracy (FRIENDS) says he has been compared to Chinese population and linked with suspicion and threats.

“We shouldn’t go back to the old normal, we should work towards a more equitable, more diverse, more welcoming and accessible society, a new and more inclusive normal,” he said.

Other members of the Black community, such as Taylor McNallie with Inclusive Canada, says it’s nice to see Calgarians realize the ongoing threats, but adds that it must go further than these types of rallies.

“To pinpoint one moment of racism that I’ve experienced, we’d be here all day, probably for a few days because every day whether it’s micro aggressions or much larger offenses there’s something always going on,” she said.

“We’re coming together to show that hate’s not welcome in this city and to show how beautiful it is when we come together and how much power can be held in love.”

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Allies to the movement like Jason Devine realize the ongoing issues. He’s been going to anti-racism rallies for the past 20 years and says people need to realize that some minority groups face hate on a daily basis.

“If we only ever look at incidences and don’t realize how racism violence is actually structural, then we’re never going to address it and so while this may be an occasion to highlight the situation,” Devine said.

“The struggle must be ongoing, we have to continue to come out, have those conversations, have those alliances.”

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Building Bridges Against Racism rallies are being held in Canada Saturday in Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg.