Hundreds demonstrated at Toronto’s US Consulate today in response to American president Donald Trump’s executive order blocking travellers from Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
Although the protest was organized earlier this weekend, emotions were running high after last night’s news that terrorists attacked a mosque in Quebec City, killing six people. Police arrested two, but said today only one is a suspect.
From showing solidarity with Muslim Canadians to asking for more support for refugees, here are some of the reasons why people are protesting today:
“When I woke up this morning my heart felt very heavy, and I find it easier to face the reality with people rather than alone.
I’m grateful to see that fellow citizens care – I’m not going to lie, there’s still a curiosity if people gathering here today is actually going to make an impact, if policy makers and the government, ignorant people’s minds and hearts can change. We just have to keep feeling, keep thinking, keep organizing and stay strong.
I’ve done degrees in psychology and I have a small understanding of the way the human psyche works: we’re not as smart as we think we are. And we have so much to learn and so much potential. But until every human being comes to some level of awareness that all of these labels – it’s all a trick of the mind – it’s what leading to all of this division here. Be human first. First foremost always, we are human first.”
“I’m Sudanese and I’m a Canadian. I’m a Torontonian for 25 years. I’m here because I want to stand up for our values as a Canadian. What Donald Trump has done is racist to Muslims and it’s a hate crime, and that is why we have to come here and support each other, promote Canadian values and stand against hatred.
I’m so proud of Canada. Before, I was so proud of our former prime minister Chretien when he stood against the war in in Iraq and also now I’m very proud of Trudeau who stands solid on Canadian values. I’m so proud of our mayor also, he stands for everybody. He stands for humanity and he stands for Muslims.”
Michelle da Silva
Amar Alfaham (centre)
“I’m a Syrian refugee and I came to Canada just before Christmas. I have many friends and family who will be negatively affected by Trump’s decision. We were shocked. My father will be stuck in Damascus now, and we cannot go back to the U.S. With this ban, families will be destroyed.
I feel safe in Canada. Most have said, “Welcome to Canada. This is your home now.” But after I got out of Syria, I went to three other countries and faced so much racism.
The people in refugee camps, the people who are bravely crossing the sea, they are not the enemy. They are showing us that they love life and they want to live. This is why we took to the streets in Syria in the first place. We love life and we want a future. We want positive change, not only in Syria, but for the whole world.”
Michelle da Silva
Tracey Erin Smith (right)
“A week ago, I took a bus of Canadian women down to Washington. With what happened last night and everything that’s happened is history repeating itself. My Jewish education prepared me to be here and to say, ‘Never again, and never again is now.’
If Canadians are saying it only is happening in the U.S., they didn’t have the news on last night. It has jumped the fence, and unfortunately it has happened here. There’s no more denying it. This is global.”
Michelle da Silva
“My sign is a reference to the musical Hamilton. It’s a brilliant musical in which all the characters are played by people who are mostly non-white. It’s a good message that shows what America looks like today. Alexander Hamilton was an immigrant from the Caribbean and he did so much for the U.S. The sheer degree of hypocrisy that’s going on right now just blows my mind.
Just last night there was a shooting at a mosque in Quebec. There’s Islamophobia that’s blatant and systemic all over this country. We have leaders of Canada’s Conservative Party who are spouting the exact same message as Trump. This is not the world I want to live in.”
Michelle da Silva
Jessica (last name withheld)
“White silence is violence, and if we don’t stand against this thing, then who will? We’re the ones with the power, so it’s our responsibility to speak out. White supremacy exists everywhere. We are a colonialist country. We were founded on white supremacy, and we haven’t don’t a lot to correct it – just ask any Indigenous person.
I was shocked about Quebec. I was not shocked about the immigration ban. Trump said he was going to do this. We had no reason not to believe him. I think a lot of white people are living in a bit of a bubble, but if you were listening to the Black or Indigenous communities, you knew this was coming.”
Davyn Calfchild (left)
“I came down here because not only is it my responsibility as a chief to defend the land, but also to make a stand to let these people know that under Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee law, we don’t believe banning people unless they bring direct harm to the confederacy, its laws or its people. We also want to make nation to nation alliances with some of these people and this is the time that this needs to happen.”
Skylar Postnikoff (right)
“I believe all people deserve equality. It’s not right for people to be kicked out of any land. I believe that since this is originally native land and that it was stolen, i believe that we should have say in what has happened recently.”
“We’re here today as allies and neither of us are directly impacted. We’re just here in solidarity with those who are.”
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