A peaceful protest standing up against racism and inequality is scheduled to take place in Quesnel from 3 to 5 p.m. on June 12. Pictured above is a Black Lives Matter protest in Williams Lake June 5, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

A peaceful protest standing up against racism and inequality is scheduled to take place in Quesnel from 3 to 5 p.m. on June 12. Pictured above is a Black Lives Matter protest in Williams Lake June 5, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Teen organizing peaceful protest against racism in Quesnel

The protest follows rallies from around the world

  • Jun. 9, 2020 12:00 a.m.

A police officer arresting her older brother in a case of mistaken identity is a memory Desiray Turrell has not forgotten.

Of the Dene/Cree Nation, Turrell was born at Fort Nelson but raised in Quesnel where she still resides.

She said she was eight years old when her brother was mistaken by police for a wanted suspect while walking in downtown Quesnel with their father.

He was tackled to the ground, she recalled in an interview with Black Press Media. His wrists started bleeding from tightly-fastened handcuffs.

When it was brought to swift attention her brother was not the sought after suspect, he was uncuffed and left to go without having received any medicial attention for his badly cut wrists she said.

“It was scary, honestly,” Turrell said. “Unfortunately, things like that happen all over Canada where police use more force than what is required for the situation.” 

To help combat that and give Indigenous people and people of color a voice, she is organizing a peaceful protest in front of the provincial government building on Barlow Avenue from 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday, June 12.

Read More: Amid anti-racism protests, Trudeau promises to push police body cameras with premiers

Now 19 years old, Turrell said discrimination and racism remain rampant, especially on social media.

“My thoughts were there’s a lot of of uneducated people and a lot of people who are blatantly racist,” she said.

“I’m hoping that they do come to our protest and they come with an open mind so they can learn and understand that these aren’t issues of the past, these are issues of the present day, as well.”

The last residential school closed fewer than 30 years ago, but many Canadians don’t know about the schools’ deeply scarring history or have forgotten, Turrell said, adding that she only recently learned her grandmother was a victim of the government-sponsored religious schools.

The Coalition of Substance Users of the North (CSUN) has donated $100 to support the event, which Turrell said will be used to purchase art supplies to make signs, as well as bottled water for attendees. All are encouraged to wear masks.

Read More: Williams Lake teens organize protest in support of Black Lives Matter


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