22 March 2011

People Can Change: Another Example

No commentary really necessary:

Published: March 22, 2011 9:00 AM
Updated: March 22, 2011 9:14 AM

Just 10 years ago, ex-skinhead Daniel Gallant would have never imagined a day when he would help organize an anti-racism rally and hug a gay man.

"Absolutely not," the 36-year-old said Monday shortly before he did both outside the Prince George courthouse where about had 75 people gathered for the International Day for the Elimination of Racism, designated as such by the United Nations to mark the deaths in 1960 of 69 protesters at an anti-apartheid rally in South Africa

Gallant, a UNBC student, said he spent a decade involved in the skinhead movement in B.C. and Alberta, even recruiting new members and "pumping them up full of doctrine and music and propaganda."

He said he gradually began to distance himself from then life and got out altogether about seven years ago. Since then, he's done all he can to stamp out racism here, including helping organize Monday's rally.

Attendees heard from guest speakers representing some of the city's ethnic communities, as well as the the president of the Prince George Pride Society.

"Discrimination is discrimination ... We owe it to ourselves and our community to challenge those stereotypes," said Valentine Crawford."'That's so gay' is not OK anymore. It's hurtful, and things like that cut deep."

Meanwhile, Carrier Sekani Tribal Council vice-chief Terry Teegee implored society simply to acknowledge racism exists.

"We have to own it," Teegee said, "and then we have to do something about it."

Following the speeches, the group was led by co-organizer Jay Myers of the Third Avenue Collective over to the Civic Centre, drawing a few honks from passing motorists and two RCMP drive-bys.

It was the first such march for Danielle Olson. The 18-year-old CNC student learned of the event when Gallant visited her classroom and shared his story.

"It felt good just coming out and saying, 'Hey, I'm not racist, and you shouldn't be either," Olson said.
"It was nice to see younger people out," said 61-year-old Elizabeth Eakin.

She recently saw a film about the civil rights movement in the U.S. and was feeling inspired, so "when I saw the (rally mentioned) in the paper, I thought, 'I've got to go.'"

1 comment:

babybluesedan said...

Wew! I was there!

Love the blog!