More than a year after Black Lives Matter protests in Windsor, some feel not enough has changed

·4 min read
Joi Hurst (left), Leslie McCurdy (centre) and Teajai Travis (right). All three activists feel that there is a loss in momentum for the movement. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC - image credit)
Joi Hurst (left), Leslie McCurdy (centre) and Teajai Travis (right). All three activists feel that there is a loss in momentum for the movement. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC - image credit)

Black community members say they don't feel much has changed in the region, more than a year after large Black Lives Matter protests landed in Windsor.

Leslie McCurdy, acting chair of the Black Council of Windsor-Essex, said she feels interest in the issue has waned.

"White people can get tired of it and leave it alone. Black people wake up with it everyday and face it," McCurdy said.

About 12 months after back-to-back BLM protests on Windsor's Riverfront — one was a BLM balloon memorial that followed the death of George Floyd and another was a rally for Regis Korchinski-Paquet — some Black residents say not enough has been done and the momentum for anti-Black racism initiatives seems to be on the decline.

The Black Council of Windsor-Essex was created in response to the Black Lives Matter protests that took place in the region last year, according to McCurdy. The group, which is made up of about 50 different people and local organizations, aims to create change for African, Black and Caribbean communities in Windsor-Essex.

Activist Teajai Travis said that "not enough has changed and far too much has remained the same."

"Last summer was a whirlwind of energy and excitement. People gathered in the streets," said Travis, who is also the executive director of Artcite Inc. in Windsor.

"It was really amazing to experience, but gathering in the streets and creating that sort of energy is the first step of many steps in creating the sort of equity and justice in society that is going to provide the gains ... necessary for the generations that are coming up to live a meaningful and high-quality life."

The Walk for Justice last year on Windsor's Riverfront brought out hundreds of people.
The Walk for Justice last year on Windsor's Riverfront brought out hundreds of people. (Submitted by Joi Hurst)

At the end of May, CEO and founder of Windsor's Coalition for Justice, Unity and Equity Joi Hurst organized the Walk for Justice — a protest where hundreds gathered to honour George Floyd and show their solidarity with protests that were happening in the United States.

She says recognition has taken place, but would like to see more changes.

"The city here in Windsor has stepped up and ... they're recognizing the faults they have in our police department here in Windsor," Hurst said. "There's a lot of work that needs to be done here and a lot of places."

"We make a few moves here and there but then we don't want it swept under the rug again and that's what's been happening."

Loss of allyship

Despite the community coming out last year, Hurst, McCurdy and Travis all agreed that there is a loss in momentum.

Travis said he sees it in organizations and groups who vowed to stand with the Black community.

"The fall-off is [in] the fire, and the power in allyship," he said. "When the rallies were no longer fashionable and we're no longer in a position for capitalism to monetize — all of a sudden we see a group of young people and elders standing [alone]."

But he said the fire is still going strong among the Black community and its activists.

McCurdy's group is one of them — she said they are still forging ahead, but changes are slow to come.

Joi Hurst is with the Coalition for Justice Unity Equity. She said a lot of people were hurting, so that's why they organized the walk.
Joi Hurst is with the Coalition for Justice Unity Equity. She said a lot of people were hurting, so that's why they organized the walk. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

A current focus for the Black Council is to make curriculum and hiring practices more inclusive in the Catholic and public school boards, as well as implement anti-racism training, McCurdy said.

She said the Catholic board is moving forward with these practices, but some members feel that the public board isn't creating the same level of change.

Hurst said her group is also working closely with youth in the school system to help them deal with racial issues they encounter.

'Need to do better'

By now, McCurdy said she would have also liked to see people working toward getting more "inclusive hiring practices" in the City of Windsor.

For Travis, he said he would have liked to see more investment in local businesses, community centres, marginalized neighbourhoods — specifically affordable and accessible housing — and meaningful policy changes that protect oppressed people.

Fists in the air during a moment of silence at the Black Lives Matter rally on Windsor's Riverfront in June 2020.
Fists in the air during a moment of silence at the Black Lives Matter rally on Windsor's Riverfront in June 2020.(Jacob Barker/CBC)

In the city's 2021 budget, it allocated $200,000 toward an anti-racism initiative.

But in an email to CBC News, the city's chief of staff Andrew Teliszewsky said the city is still waiting to determine how to spend the money and council will receive a report later this summer.

While Travis said the allocated funding is a start, he added that these sorts of resources need to be expanded to keep ongoing support for all types of marginalized communities.

"One week everybody is gathering around the Black community, then the next week we're gathering around the Indigenous communities and the Asian communities and so forth," Travis said. "It's not working, collectively we need to do better as people."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting