Protestors march across Canada against Islamophobia and Trump’s immigration ban
February 4, 2017
By Oliver Moore, Globe and Mail |
A large crowd gathered in freezing downtown Toronto Saturday to protest U.S. President Donald Trump, a gathering of people and groups with little in common except their disdain for his restrictions on Muslims entering the United States.
The demonstration was one of many planned for cities across Canada, as opponents of Mr. Trump gather to denounce his actions and demand their own governments stand up to him.
“I’m not here because I think Trump will care,” said Emily Sinclair, whose sign was aimed at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging him to realise that history will judge his actions and not his tweets.
She said Ottawa has to revoke the Canada U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, a pact that makes claiming refugee in Canada more difficult for people who have gone through the U.S. first. “Obviously refugees are no longer safe in the United States,” Ms. Sinclair said.
This was a theme of a number of people in the crowd and was one of the demands posed by protest leaders to the federal government. The eclectic nature of the crowd meant that the focus on Islamophobia and refugee rights was occasionally re-directed, though.
Black Lives Matter was a loud presence — repeated speakers referred to Canada being a “colonial settler state” and supporters of the International Bolshevik Tendency were spotted in the crowd. But a day after Mr. Trump denounced street demonstrations against his administration as the work of “professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters,” there were also plenty of ordinary people compelled to make their voice heard.
There was the woman walking her dog amid the protest as it wound its way through the downtown core. There were the employees of stores lining the Eaton Centre waving their support to the protesters. There was the small boy in the crowd whose sign read “We’ll build a land of peace love & justice.”
Zalima Dusoruth had a sign identifying her as a refugee, immigrant and Canadian citizen, adding “I am not: terrorist.”
“We’ve come so far … but we still have to say that I’m not a terrorist,” explained the young woman, who said this was one of her first protests but not her last. “More signs to come.”
The protest, which shut down University Avenue near the U.S. consulate, appeared to number in the thousands. Police would not give a crowd estimate. At one point, a protest organizer said it stretched between Dundas and Queen streets.
Kerry Clare attended with her family, including her young daughters aged seven and three. These girls were the reason she was there, she explained.
“We feel that as their parents, we are responsible for the world we brought them into, and we want to do our best to make it better,” Ms. Clare said. “We want to make sure they know that we did something. I don’t know how meaningful it really is, but I just feel like I have no choice.”
Protests against Mr. Trump also took place across the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday. There was a large demonstration in London against the new U.S. president attending a state dinner.