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Rally takes aim against hate in Thunder Bay

Friday July 25, 2014
Photos by Stephanie Wesley/Wawatay News

Sonya Kayy and Chasity Poulin hold up their signs at the July 19 event.
Photos by Stephanie Wesley/Wawatay News

“We are all equal, there is no reason to have hate against a certain race,” said Caitlyn Cheechoo. Cheechoo created the I Am Against Hate event after racial tensions in city of Thunder Bay became more apparent.

A proactive photography event geared at combating hate in the city of Thunder Bay took place in a parking lot across from Intercity mall on July 19.

“We are trying to show people that we are standing up, I guess, basically for everyone in Thunder Bay, for every civilian who feels like someone is attacking them,” Caitlyn Cheechoo said.

Cheechoo, who is a member of Long Lake #58, created the event called I Am Against Hate on social media in the wake of racial tensions in the city.

About 30 people attended the event and were given tees emblazoned with the words “stop the hate!” Nishnawbe Aski Nation financed the tees, which were free to attendees.

“With the recent events that have been going on in Thunder Bay, and all the racism that’s been happening and the bad media for every Aboriginal who is living here, we decided that no one is as bad as everyone is portraying us to be,” Cheechoo said.

Cheechoo encouraged attendees to create signs with the words “I am against hate” on them. She and other group organizers would be taking photos of the signs and their creators to be printed and distributed across the city at different places to show the city that what is happening regarding racism and hate is “not okay with us.”

“This isn’t geared towards Natives, it’s all cultures. We are all equal, there is no reason to have hate against a certain race or culture,” Cheechoo said.

Event attendee Rena Thompson of Pic River First Nation said that she was at the event to support her niece and also because “there is just no other way to live but in peace.”

“There’s a lot of hate out there,” Thompson said. “I try not to pay too much attention to it because you know, you don’t want to dwell on it too much. It’s (hate) has always been there but I see it more.”

Thompson said that she was walking along the street in the city recently and came across a woman who pointed out a brick lying on the sidewalk.

“She said look at that brick, there was a brick on the sidewalk. She told me there were people in cars going around throwing bricks at Native people,” Thompson said.

Thompson said she could not fathom someone throwing a brick at another person from a moving vehicle. She said that the brick was thrown in the daytime.

“Honestly, that someone can actually… That’s like attempted murder,” Thompson said.

Thompson said that she feels it is not safe to go out in Thunder Bay alone. She explained that even one act of hate or assault is too much.

“That’s why it’s important to show up today,” Thompson said of the event. “There is lot of support out there, for everyone.

Aaron Babula and Ashley Kivari came out to the event with their daughter to show support as well.

“I heard about it from my wife,” Babula said. “She told me they would be having this rally and we thought it was a good idea to show up.”

Babula said that issues of racism and hate should not be happening.

“It shouldn’t even be a problem. We gotta do everything we can to fix it,” he said.

Kivari said that all of the happenings in the city lately regarding racism and hate have been kind of depressing.

“But it’s nice to think positive and show that not all of us are like that. It’s nice to show support for the more positive things.” Kivari said.

Cheechoo said she hoped that more people would show up at the event, but was pleased with the turn out. She is currently planning another event and hopes that more people will attend.

“Honestly I think people should just start coming together as a whole community and try to evolve together,” Cheechoo said. “Hopefully people will start growing up and realizing that things actually need to change in Thunder Bay, especially with Thunder Bay having the most hate crimes towards Natives.”

Thompson said she teaching people that they have a choice in how to treat others should be started when they are young in school.

“All we can do is teach them that they have a choice, because there is a lot of hate out there. You can choose to be like them, to join them and do what they do, or you can choose not to. You still have a choice. Everyone has a choice,” Thompson said.

“It’s pretty sad that you can get pushed so far that you choose hate,” she said.

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I was there. A pleasant

I was there. A pleasant afternoon of laughs, photos, meeting a few old friends and making new ones. a fine first effort by Ms Cheechoo and her friends!

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