Protesters under the banner of Idle No More Kingston blocked the Canada Day People Parade on Sunday in front of City Hall.
Approximately one dozen protesters stood in the street as the parade approached, holding signs that read “151 years of genocide,” “settler colonialism is a crime,” “Justice for Colten,” and “Tina, Jon, Colten, Jordon, Lillian. Canada kills.”
One protester wore a British flag as a cape with the words “European colonialism” written across it.
Some members of the several-hundred-strong Canada Day Civic Ceremony crowd booed the protesters as they resisted police and refused to clear the roadway.
Kingston Police asked protesters to move several times before physically pushing them down the street, using officers on foot, on bicycle and on horseback.
Protester Krista Flute, who is very active in the Idle No More Kingston movement, was arrested at the scene.
Evelyna Ekoko-Kay is one of the protesters who took part in the demonstration in front of City Hall. She and a handful of others stayed after being removed from the ceremony site and handed out pamphlets to anyone interested on the corner afterward.
Ekoko-Kay said she is not Indigenous herself but is mixed race, with one parent an immigrant and the other a colonist. She said she stands in solidarity with Indigenous people in Canada.
“I think it’s important that non-Indigenous people align ourselves with Indigenous struggle,” she said.
“Canada is a nation founded on the genocide of Indigenous people, and it’s an ongoing genocide. In this case, genocide is in the form of residential schools, in the form of the ’60s scoop when children were taken from their homes and put in foster care and separated from their culture. It’s ongoing now, and in fact today, Indigenous youth are taken at a higher rate than they were at the height of the residential school system, to the point where over 50 per cent of children in foster care are Indigenous, even though that’s only about eight per cent of the population.”
According to Ekoko-Kay, 47 per cent of boys and 50 per cent of girls in juvenile detention are Indigenous.
“Indigenous people are being killed every day, whether we’re talking about missing and murdered Indigenous women, people killed by police or white vigilantes. Their killers are consistently acquitted.”
Ekoko-Kay said she feels people need to hear the message of Indigenous people who have been marginalized, especially on Canada Day.
“When people celebrate Canada Day, whether or not they are doing it maliciously or whether or not they believe that Indigenous people deserve this, they are still helping to uphold that state and helping to celebrate it, and erase the realities of settler colonialism, which is an ongoing problem,” Ekoko-Kay said. “We wanted to create a counternarrative at this protest, this rally, because otherwise the only voices being heard are those that agree with the state and are wiling to fall in line. If that’s the case, then no one will ever know about any of these things, and that’s not acceptable. People’s lives are being taken every day. There’s no time to wait.
“If we don’t take a stand, even if we’re just a small group of people, then nothing will ever change.”