Dozens of people take part in rally on steps of Calgary City Hall
Two groups with very different views of the subject of diversity gathered on the steps of Calgary City Hall on Saturday.
Members of the anti-racism side say the event was a good opportunity for them to take a stand against hate.
“We took a stand against people who claim that they are Christians, who claim that they are Conservatives, who claim they are patriots but they are anything but. We know what they have done in the past, we know how much hate they have inside them against Muslims,” said Saima Jamal, a Calgary activist who helped organize the event.
Jamal says that both events were scheduled weeks ago and she wants people to know that they are protesting the views of their opponents who claim to be holding a Christian event.
“We know Christians, we love Christians. Muslims and Christians and Jews and every other faith in this city stay united and we celebrate each other’s faith and we celebrate each other’s diversity,” Jamal said. “We are not going to tolerate these groups that are inciting hatred. We want to live in peace, we want to live in a country where our sisters, mothers, daughters, people that are visibly Muslim, can live and thrive peacefully.”
Joey Deluca, a member of the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam, says the event is a way for them to stand up for their rights and not about hate.
“There is nothing hateful in our signs. These people are here trying to bother us and shut us down. They’re the aggressors.”
He says that there are members of every race on his side of the debate and they are standing united against Islamic extremism and all the violent acts that are attributed to that ideology.
Deluca says that some things in Canada need to change.
“We’d like to see Canada make more of an effort to bring in quality immigrants who aren’t about that ideology, who aren’t going to come here and cause trouble. People are going to come here and work for a living and not leech off our welfare system. People that want to learn English and appreciate being in Canada.”
Adora Nwofor, one of the speakers for the anti-racism rally, says she experiences discrimination in Calgary almost every day.
“It makes me feel like I’m less. It makes me feel like anything that I’m accomplishing is being erased. It makes me feel like I cannot express who I am in my full self. It includes being black, it includes being a woman, it includes being tall and loud and sometimes inappropriate and sometimes very appropriate. Those aren’t crimes and those aren’t things that should hold me back.”
Nwofor was born and raised in Calgary and says she wants people to stop asking her where she is from and being surprised at her answer.
“If you don’t believe me that means you think I’m a liar.”
Jamal says the message she wants everyone to take home from her side of the discussion is that people need to be a lot more accepting of refugees that have come to Canada for safety.
“So we came to send them a message that refugees are welcome. Muslims and Islam are part of Canadian culture. Stop saying that they are not welcome, stop saying that they are anything but Canadian.”