An anti-racism rally is planned at Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver Friday afternoon with two main messages: in honour of Jacob Blake and calling for changes to B.C.'s education system.

Blake is the Black man from Wisconsin who was shot in the back seven times by a police officer, leaving him with life-altering injuries. The incident led to protests across the U.S. and to both the NBA and NHL postponing games in protest against racial injustice.

The other focus is on the issue of racism in schools. That idea came from former South-Surrey student Madison Stewart who’s now studying biology at the University of Washington.

Before leaving for college, Stewart had attended a number of events run by Black Vancouver and wanted to reach out.

“I’d mentioned Black education I thought it was really important and something maybe that we could be focusing on, and they really liked that idea and we decided to all move forward with it,” Stewart said. “I think especially for Black youth it is so important and can really push our community to really follow their dreams, aspirations and find something that they really love to do.”

Stewart can’t attend the protest in person as she’s currently in quarantine after returning home from the U.S.

Friday’s event will feature speakers from different school districts talking about their experiences will racism in school, there will also be a number of musical performances.

The group has written a letter to the Ministry of Education calling for changes, including:

  • anti-racism clubs
  • Black history be taught in schools
  • anti-racism class for teachers and students alike
  • diversify the teaching population
  • have resources allocated specifically for Black students
  • have counsellors for Black students within the school

CTV News has reached out the Ministry of Education for comment.

The rally is planned to run from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.