Black Lives Matter sign in Whitehorse damaged, while another disappears

·2 min read

When Dan Bushnell of Whitehorse bought plywood to make a couple of roadside signs in support of anti-racism protesters, he figured he'd buy some extra.

"We didn't buy two sheets of plywood. We bought four, because we knew full well the signs would be vandalized, that they would be destroyed," Bushnell said.

"It wasn't a question of whether or not they were going to be vandalized, unfortunately. It was when."

Bushnell was proven right — one of the two big signs was recently damaged, and the other simply disappeared from alongside Two Mile Hill in the city's downtown on Monday.

They were erected last month, when anti-racism demonstrations were being staged around the world, including in Whitehorse. Bushnell said it felt like a timely gesture of support.

George Maratos/CBC
George Maratos/CBC

"BLACK LIVES THEY MATTER HERE," the signs read.

"It's something that needed to be done, and that I as an individual wanted to show support and say, you know, this is something that in my community even, in my town, I'm actually not going to stand for it," Bushnell said.

"We live in a community where racism is still very, very prevalent."

He says he fixed the sign on Two Mile Hill three times before it disappeared. The other, on Robert Service Way, he fixed twice.

"Now it's currently at my house, because someone smashed a hole in the centre of it," he said.

Submitted by Dan Bushnell
Submitted by Dan Bushnell

Paige Gallette says she's not surprised by what happened to the signs. She's more surprised that they stood for as long as they did.

She said she was excited when they first went up.

"It was nice to see that, you know, as a Black person we don't always have to do all the work and that white people can step up and support community by using their skills and resources," she said.

"The fact that [the signs] stayed up for a long time also says that not only are we ready to have this conversation, but people are ready to step up and to support community members."

She calls what happened to the signs a reality check.

"Obviously it's not good that it happened, but it's a good visual of what happens in our community," she said.

Submitted by Dan Bushnell
Submitted by Dan Bushnell

Bushnell says he's not deterred — he's working to put up new signs. And he says he's been told by city officials that he'll need a permit.

"I'm going to reach out to some folks and see if we can get them up on the highway, maybe get them a bit higher so they're harder for people to vandalize, and see what we can do," he said.

"It's about letting people know, like, this is a place where we actually care about this, and this is a place where we're going to work on it."