TRURO – Riley Gabriel knows the heartache that comes with racism.
“I’ve had racial slurs said to me, even by one teacher in Springhill. It makes you feel separated. I was furious. I hate it,” Riley, the Grade 8 Truro Junior High School student, told the Truro Daily News. Riley refused to repeat what was said to him other than to say, “the N word and other things.”
Riley shared a little of his experience during the annual rally against racism, in which about 2,000 students from Truro elementary, Truro junior, Cobequid Educational Centre, Harmony Heights, Hilden, Tatmagouche and Brookfield elementary, and Central Colchester junior high attended in Victoria Park on Thursday morning. The hurt and frustration were evident in Riley’s eyes as he shared some of his experience.
“Why? What’s the reason to say it? It (happened) in the hallways, lunch room, outside …it didn’t matter where I was,” he said. “It all leads back to the parents. They say it around their kids and then they say it. It’s 2014. It shouldn’t be happening now.”
Riley said rallies, such as the one on Thursday, can make a difference if people listen. During the event, a number of students showcased their various cultures through song, dance and sharing personal experiences.
“Why is it OK for people to say they aren’t racist when they are?” asked Grade 10 Cobequid Educational Centre student Haley Matthews on the bandshell stage.
“I am who I am. This is my civic right … why can’t mankind undo what it started” including racism, she asked.
In addition, Mi’kmaq dancing and drumming, Indian-style Bollywood dancing and a dragon dance brought the stage to life. Cheers came from the huge crowd when a Tatamagouche elementary representative asked how it would feel if the only ice cream available was grapefruit.
“What?! We need variety!” the children shouted.
And what if the boys in your school were only named Isaac?
“What?! We need variety!” they insisted.
For Rebecca Green, a CEC Grade 11 student, the rally was important to attend even though she has never personally experienced racism.
“I feel proud to be a part of this,” said Green. “I have friends of different cultures and it’s important to support them.”
TRURO - Thousands of students from Colchester County schools joined voices and hearts in unity against racism on Thursday morning.
An estimated crowd of more than 2,000 students, teachers and community members gathered in Victoria Park under beautiful sunny skies to take a stand against racism, share their personal stories of hardships and triumph, and showcase various cultural songs and dances.
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