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Fort Amherst name a “subtle” form of white supremacy, says rally organizer

Participants march down Queen Street in the anti-white supremacy rally held in Charlottetown on Saturday.
Participants march down Queen Street in the anti-white supremacy rally held in Charlottetown on Saturday.

Keeping a historic site named Fort Amherst is a covert form of racism and hate, says an organizer of the anti-white supremacy march held in Charlottetown on Saturday.

About 150 individuals took part in the rally, which marched from the Coles Building down Queen Street to the waterfront.
The rally was organized in solidarity with events that occurred in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend.

“Charlottesville may seem quite far away but racist attitudes, white supremacy and hate are not limited to specific geographical locations. They’re present everywhere,” said Brad Deighan, one of the rally’s organizers.

Participants march down Queen Street in the anti-white supremacy rally held in Charlottetown on Saturday.

The Charlottesville rally began with a white nationalist protest over calls to remove Confederate soldier monuments. One attendee crashed his car into a group of counter-protesters, which resulted in one death and 19 injuries

Deighan said while white supremacy can be expressed in “overt” forms of violence and terrorism, he said it can also be exhibited in subtle forms like “daily micro-aggressions, casual racism and even the name of a street or national historic site that celebrates colonialism or a racist figure.”

“We here in Prince Edward Island have not been and simply are not immune to this and we need to be proactive,” he said. “We see that Halifax has it’s own issues with Edward Cornwallis and P.E.I. has Fort Amherst.”

One participant holds a sign reading “The Only Good Fascist Is A Very Dead Fascist” during a march against hate and racism in Charlottetown on Saturday.

A campaign to remove the name Fort Amherst began when it was discovered General Jeffery Amherst had advocated for the use of smallpox-infected blankets against indigenous people.
Keptin John Joe Sark has called for the removal of Amherst’s name while the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada has said it will not drop the name of the historic site.

On Saturday, organizers handed out pre-written post cards to attendees lobbying government to change the name.

Jillian Kilfoil, of the P.E.I. Women’s Network, was also one of the event’s organizers.

She thanked participants for coming but said there are still people on P.E.I. who hold an opposing view.

“And for people who, when this rally got organized said ‘we don’t need that in P.E.I., what is going on?’ Your eyes are closed,” said Kilfoil. “You’re not seeing the everyday racism and misogyny, homophobia and transphobia that exists on our gentle island. Islanders are nice but that doesn’t mean we always know how to best interact and welcome people to our Island.”

 

The Guardian will have more on this story in Monday’s print and online editions.

 

 

Mitchell.macdonald@theguardian.pe.ca
Twitter.com/Mitch_PEI

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