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Chilliwack chapter at ‘You Belong Here’ gathering

The Council of Canadians Chilliwack chapter participated in the You Belong Here event yesterday.

The Chilliwack Progress had reported prior to the event, “Chilliwack is celebrating diversity and inclusivity with a special event on Sunday afternoon. You Belong Here is on Feb. 12, starting at 2:30 p.m. at the Chilliwack Museum, followed by a community walk to The Vineyard to listen to speakers. The theme of You Belong Here is ‘supporting our neighbours and celebrating diversity in Chilliwack’. The timing of the diversity event comes in the wake of a horrifying act of mass murder in Quebec City as well as anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies emanating from the United States.”

The article adds, “The list of You Belong Here speakers includes [You Belong Here planning committee member Willow] Reichelt, as well as Sto:lo elder Eddie Gardner, Dr. Osama Ebesh of the Chilliwack Islamic Centre Vern, Susan Tompke of Vineyard Community Church and city councillor Jason Lum.”

After the gathering, the planning committee posted on the You Belong Here Facebook page, “What an absolutely incredible afternoon! We, the Planning Committee, and the messenger group for the You Belong Here event want to sincerely thank all of the Chilliwack residents who came out to the event today. And thank you to all who couldn’t make it but sent their regrets and messages of support. So many people expressed that they also regularly want to do something public to celebrate diversity and connect with neighbours more, and we’re so glad to have this opportunity.”

Their note added, “Because the message of this event was so welcoming and inclusive, even when we were just milling about, and trickling in at the Chilliwack Museum grounds, there was such an air of celebration. …A few times at the museum, I just stood and looked about at all the smiling faces, random strangers shaking hands, introducing themselves, laughing and smiling…. Already, just with that we had achieved what we all set out to do. And the turn out was incredible.”

Chapter activist Suzy Coulter says, “It was great to be part of the You Belong Here rally in Chilliwack. A fantastic turn out of fellow citizens standing up for diversity and dignity and saying no to racism and xenophobia and fear. Thank you to the You Belong Here organizers.”

Following the tragedy in Quebec City, the Montreal chapter attended the funeral for three of those killed at the mosque; the Montreal, South Niagara, Guelph, Centre Wellington, Peterborough-Kawarthas, London and Mid Island chapters attended vigils; the Ottawa, London and PEI chapters have participated in marches against Islamophobia; the Winnipeg chapter has called on their city council to support a sanctuary city designation for their community; the Chilliwack chapter encouraged their contact list to send to their MP e-mails prior to emergency debate on the Safe Third Country agreement; and the North Shore chapter called on Trudeau to oppose Trump’s racist travel ban.

The Council of Canadians supports diversity and inclusion, and rejects racism and Islamophobia.