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CRRC in the Community

The “Let Love Reign” Rally

Let Love Reign Rally, Peterborough, August 2017

More than 300 peace-loving people gathered at the Hate-Free Peace Vigil in Peterborough on August 20 to show their solidarity with those who have experienced or are experiencing racism and bigotry in our society.

A sea of community members ranging from babies to seniors and featuring a diversity of identities was present within the predominantly white crowd, with some carrying signs, some playing musical instruments and all with voices chanting to the beat of drums, “Let Love Reign.”

Unlike recent deadly rallies in Charlottesville, Va., initiated by ultraright/white supremacy groups that spread hateful, painful words, this vigil’s participants wrote and held signs whose messages included, “Love For All — Love is the Answer Always!!!”, “Love Not Hate”, and “Love Wins — No Room for Hate.”

Unlike the Charlottesville demonstrators who carried torches and were loud and abrasive, our event at Confederation Park centred on a candlelight memorial to remember the victims of hate across our world, and then held a minute of respectful silence.

Unlike the Charlottesville protests whose participants chanted racial hate words, this rally was engulfed by sounds of African drums led by Christian Harvey and others chanting to their beat: “Let Love Reign.”

At this peace vigil, we heard messages, prayers, poems and songs from strong and courageous voices who are representative of Peterborough’s often marginalized communities — from Blacks such as Niambi Leigh and myself, from this land’s First Peoples as led by James Whetung, from Muslim Syrian refugee Joummana Mualem and Jewish individuals Ziy Sah and Harlen Wall, and from other community members such as Elizabeth Rahman and Rosemary Ganley.

Unlike the Charlottesville protests whose participants chanted racial hate words, this rally was engulfed by sounds of African drums led by Christian Harvey and others chanting to their beat: “Let Love Reign.”

The shared message from all of the above was in keeping with a core belief of all of the rally’s organizing groups — Black Lives Matter, the Community Race Relations Committee and the Peace Council of Peterborough — that all individuals in Peterborough are equal in dignity and rights, and that we are striving to eliminate all forms of racism, bigotry and hatred in our community. We are working to create a place that is safe, welcoming, and free of discrimination against those who are different from ourselves. In contrast, and given the status of white supremacy groups such as the KKK and neo-Nazis as an exclusive all-white club, those who are non-white, Indigenous, Muslim, Jewish and non-WASP would not be welcomed at their rally, let alone be able to chant “Let Love Reign.”

As a painful reminder of the work that remains to be done, and of the needed involvement and leadership across all sectors of our community, one of our vigil’s minority attendees was verbally accosted on an ethnic basis during their walk home after the event.

At the end of Sunday’s vigil, we concluded with the hope that others in Peterborough would encourage those in their day-to-day lives to stand up to hate by defending victims of racism and by enabling them to feel safer throughout this community in appropriate, adaptable ways. We then closed with a communal song led by United Church Minister Wanda Stride in which everyone sang This Little Light of Mine, and to the beat of the drums chanted “Let Love Reign.”

For resources, support, advocacy, and ways to become involved, please contact the Community Race Relations Committee of Peterborough at racerelation@gmail.com

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