After the rally: Kelowna empowerment coach on moving forward with BLM

Rawle James said the first big step is to have the difficult conversations

Hundreds of Kelowna residents have participated in a Black Lives Matter rally, but what are the next steps?

Kelowna empowerment coach Rawle James said the answer to that question is for the community as a whole to stop comparing who has experienced the worst wrongs due to racism because that’s what leads to pain.

“Black and Indigenous communities need to stop acting like they’re the only two who have been hurt or have gone through stuff. Right in this country, look at what we’ve done to the Chinese with the head tax, with the Japanese during the war. Look what we’ve done to other ethnicities,” explained James.

James is working towards a solution that is multi-faceted and will involve everyone to look at economic, judicial, political, and financial systems, as well as spiritual, mental and emotional well-being.

As part of his empowerment work, James said the community has to realize everyone has the same needs, no matter the skin colour. We also have to be willing to have conversations with the people who have different thoughts and beliefs means stepping out of individual pain and suffering.

One of those conversations James is having is with Kelowna’s Black community, after confusion over the organization of the June 5, Black Lives Matter rally.

Two local organizations – Hearth and the African-Caribbean Student Club at UBCO – spoke against the rally’s organizers. In separate statements, they said they felt there were no Black people involved in launching the rally, even though Kermisha Pereira is a Black woman and Paige Harrison is half-Black.

James said it was a misunderstanding, but because of hurt feelings, the two organizations chose not to support the endeavour.

Since then, he has been trying to set up a meeting with the organizations, as well as Pereira and Harrison, to help mediate and mentor them. He’s been able to speak to everyone on social media and he said they all need to rest and heal from what they experienced.

Despite what happened, he said he is proud of the organizers because they stood up and felt compelled to encourage learning and conversation in Kelowna.

“They may have been exuberant, but their intent was not to take advantage of the situation. There was no cultural appropriation,” James said.

“The point is that young people stood up and said ‘enough of this’ What is wrong with that? Nothing. People left the rally wanting to learn more, wanting to talk more. That’s what’s important, and that’s what needs to keep going.”

READ: Hundreds gather at Black Lives Matter rally in Kelowna

READ: Kelowna mayor issues statement on Black Lives Matter


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cops For Kids ride wraps in Okanagan

No pomp, no circumstance for end of milestone 20th anniversary fundraising bicycle trip

Former Kelowna cop faces fourth lawsuit alleging sexual assault

Ex-Mountie Brian Mathew Burkett is also separately facing seven charges of breach of trust

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Smoky skies clearing throughout B.C. Interior

Environment Canada expects “widespread” improvement for all affected areas by Sunday

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Squabble over mask policy at LUSH in Kelowna mall

The woman filmed the encounter at LUSH Cosmetics, where wearing a mask in-store is company policy

Province opens ‘middle income’ housing in Kelowna

Prices on the units are $1,300 for a one-bedroom and $1,780 for a two-bedroom, nearing area-average prices

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Reward offered for return of Okanagan puppy

An 11-week-old boxer-mastiff cross pup was allegedly taken from its Kelowna Friday, Sept. 18

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Most Read