About a dozen people gathered in front of Nelson city hall on May 25 to commemorate the second anniversary of the death of George Floyd.
The event was led by Nelson resident and author Diana Cole.
“We’re here to give honour to George Floyd’s life, who passed in a very ignominious way,” she said. “But it was a teaching moment for all of us to understand the extent of oppression of Black, Indigenous and people of colour in the United States, and gives emphasis to the oppression that takes place in Canada as well.”
Floyd died at the hands of policemen in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. One of the officers, Derek Chauvin, was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison for murder.
Cole said Chauvin deserves empathy.
“When you look harder at his life, you realize that he was encouraged to behave in this way, and was never told that this was not an appropriate way to deal with people who are maybe perceived as being a problem.
“And so we can use this example, to understand how other people suffer, and how people can suffer by taking part in the oppression as well.”
Cole, who was born in a Japanese internment camp in the U.S. during the Second World War, linked George Floyd’s murder, residential schools, and internment camps in a shared narrative of fear experienced by people of colour.
“Fear that you might encounter one of the wrong police officers who might kill you or deport you, put you back in residential school or an internment camp if you make the wrong move.”
She said the death of Floyd should remind us of the need to eliminate racism and from our society and institutions.
“We, as a community, can come together to foster a better society and a more inclusive environment for everyone.”