"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends."

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Some people say that it takes one drop for a cup to overflow. For the team of people who work at the Canadian Council for Refugees office, it took one more knee on one more man. As tens of thousands are marching to protest injustice, violence and systemic racism, we wanted to take this moment to take a stand, as a team, to voice our outrage and our solidarity.

Year after year, we work tirelessly behind the scenes at the Canadian Council for Refugees office. Quietly, yet efficiently, we have been organizing events, gathering member organizations, facilitating meeting spaces, and ensuring that operations flow.

Discreet, silent, and often invisible, we ensure that advocacy work, knowledge sharing, and programs in defense of vulnerable migrants, immigrants, refugee claimants and refugees happen.

Today, as the CCR team, here is what we want to say: No More!

Today, we take a stand to demand real changes at all levels. We need to make commitments and take clear actions against racism. We need to change how we interact with each other; we need to implement clear actions at our organizations, we also need to ask governments to make real commitments against racism. As Canadians, we also need to acknowledge the long racist history and recognize that our systems are far from welcoming and humane.

Today, we want to speak up, not as a non-governmental organization but as humans, citizens, neighbours, or parents, to reflect on our individual role to tackle racism of all kinds, and to express our desire to dedicate ourselves to a better future. From our heart to yours, we hope injustice will be brought to light, and that all of us will do a better job in loving, respecting and honoring all people. 

 

No more knees crushing hopes, shattering lives, choking spirits, and stifling identities.
No more knees sweeping racism - systemic or otherwise - under the rugs of excuses, contextualizing, and politically correct speeches.
No more knees denying Blackness its existence, its contribution, its agency, and its value.
No more knees pressing faces down on the pavement, faces of communities deprived of the right to breathe.
No more knees forcing women, men, children, youth and elders into prisons of oppression, marginalization, and eventual resignation.
We take a stand today. Nou campé. Debout, enfin.”

 

As a mother of three little innocent humans, I promise I will listen and do everything in my power to educate my children to embrace the colour of their skin and stand up to discrimination. Change is overdue and I truly hope that the next generation of our daughters and sons will grow up in a safe world where no one experiences unfair treatment based on their origin, and no mother fears for her child’s safety because of their skin colour.”


Back from the demonstration against racism and police brutality on June 7, 2020, I come home with a smile. A smile mixed with hope. Hope that a better tomorrow awaits us. Seeing the huge crowd of people in downtown Montreal come to defy measures of social distancing to get closer as never before, this gives me hope. To see many generations of the population, from all origins chant loudly: ‘No Justice, No Peace’, or ‘Black Lives Matter’ in unison, that gives me hope. The eternal optimist in me would like to believe that this is not yet another historic event that we will all forget about in a few weeks. I dare to believe that this time will be different. Because this time, we finally realize that we have to fight together, hand in hand, heart to heart. " 

 

Why should the feeling of belonging to the human circle, as the First Nations call it, be a privilege reserved only for a few? Why should we entertain the silences and denials surrounding privileges? To reconstruct the systems and hope that anyone can finally be a part of this circle, we need to break the taboos. And so as asked in the Talmud, I ask in turn: if not me, who? If not now, when?  ”

As a mother of an interracial daughter, a woman, a daughter of immigrant parents, and longstanding human rights advocate, I stand beside those working for social justice and speaking out against systemic racism and discrimination. At the end of the day, it is through our interactions and actions in our personal and professional lives that we show our solidarity and create inclusive worlds. There are times to step up, times to give space, and times to speak up. This is a time for all three: #BlackLivesMatter.”

 

The cries of grief and of rage at appalling injustice are not new, but this time dare we hope that the world will listen and commit to action? Today we glimpse a readiness to dream of a radically better future where police forces are closed down. Can we not also make this a time to transform the immigration policies that oppress so many, and particularly Black people?”

 

The CCR staff team

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends"

 - Martin Luther King -