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Activists Just Launched A Black Lives Matter Chapter In Vancouver

It's the second BLM chapter in Canada.

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Activists have just launched a Black Lives Matter chapter in Vancouver, making it the second offshoot in Canada after Toronto.

Black Lives Matter Vancouver co-founder Cicely-Belle Blain said they were inspired by a two-week protest by Black Lives Matter Toronto, which got commitments from city and provincial leaders to review police oversight.
Lenee Son

Black Lives Matter Vancouver co-founder Cicely-Belle Blain said they were inspired by a two-week protest by Black Lives Matter Toronto, which got commitments from city and provincial leaders to review police oversight.

Blain said BLM Vancouver started as a Facebook page, but it quickly snowballed into something bigger. After raising over $1,000 on GoFundMe, the group held its first event on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery where hundreds attended a "visibility and solidarity" rally.

Ohi Akpengbe

Blain, who is originally from the U.K., said the core organizing team consists of seven "awesome black women" who became friends at the University of British Columbia.

Fatima Jaffer
Ohi Akpengbe

"We are now expanding the collective to include folks from around the city and with different backgrounds," she told BuzzFeed Canada by email.

BLM Vancouver is forging close bonds with Indigenous leaders and activists, in particular.

"We are so grateful to be able to live and work on the lands of the Coast Salish people and so it is very important to us to honour their work as caretakers of this land for thousands of years," Blain said. "While the circumstances cannot be directly compared, there is a unified struggle that binds together marginalized communities."
Ohi Akpengbe

"We are so grateful to be able to live and work on the lands of the Coast Salish people and so it is very important to us to honour their work as caretakers of this land for thousands of years," Blain said.

"While the circumstances cannot be directly compared, there is a unified struggle that binds together marginalized communities."

Blain said the group's focus in Vancouver, like elsewhere, will be combating anti-black racism. But with a small black that represents less than 1% of the population, a major goal is simply gaining visibility in the city.

Mwango Moragia
Mwango Moragia

"We are in the process of defining some concrete goals and a mission statement for our collective but I would say our priorities are making the black community here visible, remembering the rich and deep history of black communities in Vancouver that have been erased by gentrification, supporting and connecting with Indigenous communities, sharing stories, and celebrating blackness," Blain said.

She said BLM Vancouver will also tackle issues like poverty, housing, unemployment, and immigration, as well as try to amplify the voices of queer and trans black people, black people living with disabilities, and other marginalized groups.

BLM Vancouver has more events planned that will celebrate blackness and community.

The group is also in talks to take part in the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, with programming that focuses on black and LGBT issues.
Mwango Moragia

The group is also in talks to take part in the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, with programming that focuses on black and LGBT issues.

Mwango Moragia
Mwango Moragia

Ishmael N. Daro is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto. PGP fingerprint: 5A1D 9099 3497 DA4B

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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