About 600 people marched through the city of Val d’Or March 18 to raise awareness on racism.

This is the fifth consecutive year the Native Friendship Centre of Val d’Or has sponsored the march. Organizer Karen Buskue was pleased that the march attracted non-natives, as well.

“Other community organizations like the commission for Human Rights and Legal Aid were there too. Students from Lac Simon came and also students from the Val d’Or area, both primary and secondary,” said Buskue. “So there was a lot of diversity in the march. What we wanted to do was make a celebration of diversity. It’s to denounce racism, mostly our message was really positive and promoted acceptance of differences.”

The event featured a stage where people from different organizations spoke about the racial discrimination. Activities included visiting schools and stores to distribute an anti-racism poster created for the march,” added Buskue.

“Basically what we did was to get people to sign the poster and then we put up the poster in the stores. This is a good way to reach everybody to hear our campaign and to raise awareness. This is a good way to reach people to stop discrimination,” said Buskue.

Buskue said the demonstration and poster weren’t the only ways the friendship centre was trying to break down barriers.

“We also have activities for children in the schools on the subject of racism. During the march we stopped at the city hall and the Mayor of Val d’Or signed the Declaration of Friendship Between Peoples,” said Buskue. “I think the rally itself was raising awareness. There’s a lot of diversity here in Val d’Or and racism exists. Often people think that we don’t have racial problems here, but we know that it happens all the time. So this was a way to tell people who are against racism to join in the march. It was a big message to the whole population to stop discrimination and racism.”