People in more than 50 cars convoyed the streets with signs against racism in the Cowichan Valley Sunday.
The show of solidarity comes in light of the recent racism experienced by many First Nations in the region.
“I think we want to bring some energy and attention right across the Island. We want to start the conversation,” said one of the event’s organizers, Janis Jonasen, who is part of the Resilience B.C. Anti-Racism Network.
A recent outbreak of COVID-19 within the Cowichan Tribes community forced the First Nation to order a shelter-in-place.
Since then a number of businesses began refusing to serve Cowichan Tribes members as some business employees thought the shelter in place meant they shouldn’t be shopping.
Cowichan Tribes and rally organizers say they want to clear up any confusion.
“We’re just really disturbed that they were doing everything they could to be proactive members of the community yet they received a bunch of racist backlash and discrimination when they were trying to access services in businesses,” said Jonasen.
Among those taking part was Joe Elliot, a Cowichan Tribes members, who says racism can take a heavy toll.
“Witnessing and seeing some of the treatment our Cowichan peoples are facing is very detrimental in regards to our First Nation’s health and well being,” he said.
Elliott says it’s important to take time to understand each other if systemic racism is going to end.
“Come together and build relationships and work together in a positive and good way to hopefully look at our biases and our stereotypes so the systemic racism doesn’t continue,” he said.
Elliott says he’s taking part in the rally for his current and future grandchildren.
The shelter in place order will remain until Feb. 5 but the First Nation is facing some relief, with 600 of its most vulnerable members recently vaccinated.