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

After the rally: Kelowna empowerment coach on moving forward after 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.

Just Posted

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Men in a work camp at Mile 46 on the Big Bend Highway. 
(Revelstoke Museum and Archives Photo 2259)
Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for June 17

Bumper strawberry crop, Mt. Logan climbers and unemployment relief

(File)
‘It’s not going to work here’: Revelstoke mayor to meet province over ambulance changes

There is a new system being introduced across the province called Scheduled On-Call (SOC)

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

The crosswalk is at Third Street and Mackenzie and was installed on June 17. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
Painting a rainbow: First Pride crosswalk installed in Revelstoke

‘It signals to the community that this city is inclusive,’ Mayor Gary Sulz

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read