Mayor John Higham took the unusual step of delivering a brief statement condemning what he termed “systemic racism” at the opening of Monday night’s Sackville Town Council meeting held online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This has been a particularly overwhelming week for many people,” Higham began. “The world seems rather relentless and unforgiving in the last little while.”
He added that while people have been facing the pandemic and issues such as climate change, racial matters seem to have become what he called a “defining moment” for the country.
“I can’t say that I understand what it’s like to be subjected to systemic racism,” Higham said. “But I do know that systemic, anti-black as well as anti-indigenous racism, lives in Canada and unfortunately, it’s also present in Sackville.”
The mayor urged everyone to support human rights.
“We unmistakably condemn racism, violence and discrimination of any kind,” he said.
“I want our black and indigenous colleagues, residents in communities across this province and this country, to know that we here stand in solidarity with you in the fight to defeat racism.”
Councillor Bill Evans echoed the mayor’s comments saying that he was delighted to see hundreds of Sackville residents participate in last Wednesday’s silent vigil outside Sackville’s main post office.
“It was yet another reason why I’m proud of our community,” Evans said, adding that while everyone has seen examples of individual racism, the systemic kind also exists.
“People who would never consider themselves racist can, without knowing it or intending it, be racist and even more likely, be part of and beneficiaries of systemic racism,” he said.
“We need to educate ourselves about this reality and its history, remove the blinkers of our white privilege and commit to doing whatever we can to call out and eliminate this centuries-old scourge wherever it exists,” Evans concluded.
To read a transcript of the two statements, click here.