The names of Chantel Moore and George Floyd continued to echo through the streets on the west coast of Vancouver Island on Monday.
Following Sunday’s protest in Ucluelet, organizers held another demonstration in Tofino, drawing hundreds of supporters who rallied against police violence and racism towards Black and Indigenous communities.
They marched from the village green, down to the first street dock, where Marissa Mack instructed the crowd to lay down. For 8 minutes and 46 seconds they remained still – the same amount of time that Floyd was fatally pinned down under the knee of Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin.
Mack penetrated the silence by speaking Floyd’s last words through a megaphone. “I can’t breathe,” she wept.
While Mack had no relation to Moore, a Tla-o-qui-aht woman who was fatally shot by the police in New Brunswick on June 4, she was moved to action and organized the march because “I get the same treatment from police as her,” she said. “I couldn’t just sit there anymore and feel like I’m not doing anything.”
As the crowd circled back to the village green, they chanted “no justice, no peace,” while marching in front of the RCMP detachment on Campbell Street.
“People are asking us to stay peaceful,” said Savannah George, from Ucluelet First Nation. “We’ve always been peaceful – it’s how we were raised. I am angry, but I am harmless.”
George criticized the RCMP and cautioned the crowd not to “buy into” the photos of police officers taking a knee. “It’s propaganda,” she said.
Tofino RCMP Sgt. Todd Pebernat stood on the sidelines of the protest, as speakers expressed their anger towards the police. It was his way of trying to balance showing his “commitment to promote diversity and oppose racism” without being overbearing.
“What I wanted more than anything was to be able to listen,” he said.
At the end of the demonstration, Nuu-chah-nulth singers and drummers gathered to perform a love song.
“Amongst all this hate in the world, we need a little bit of love,” said Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks manager Terry Dorward.