An international protest will have a local iteration on Friday night.
On July 12, Lights for Liberty will stand in peaceful vigils with candles held high across the globe to protest the conditions of the detention camps along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Leap Barrie is one of the organizers of the local event. One of the founding members of The Leap Barrie, Mike Speers, said the cause is important to him and should be to everyone.
“Personally, as a dad but also just as a human being, to see what children and adults are going through in the detention centres down in the U.S. is heartbreaking,” said Speers. “With the exception of indigenous people, everyone in Canada has come from somewhere else looking for a better life.”
“The people in these camps are people who are escaping poverty and violence. They see countries like the U.S. as real safe havens from this,” he added.
Speers said The Leap Barrie is an organization that believes in a renewable-based economy in a way that changes the world for the better.
“Part of that is linking climate issues with other issues, such as racism and justice for indigenous people,” he said.
The Facebook page for the event outlines why it’s important for this divisive issue to be discussed in Canada, as south-of-the-border rhetoric has been creeping north.
“With the rise of Donald Trump in the U.S., Doug Ford and Maxime Bernier in Canada, and xenophobic parties across Europe — backed by establishment conservatives who quickly fell in line — the same political forces denying climate change are escalating attacks on migrants and refugees,” reads the Facebook page. “In a world where millions of people are being displaced by the ravages of war, economic domination and climate change, we challenge everyone to assert that moving across borders, with full protections, is a human right — full stop.”
Speers said that while more than 150 people have RSVP’d to the Facebook event, he expects to see between 50 and 75 actually attend the vigil.
“I hope this will be a space where people can come and let their emotions out if they want. It’s a very troubling issue for many people,” he said.
Overall, Speers said the goal of the event is to re-frame the conversation.
“We’re trying to... (get) away from the hateful rhetoric you might hear where you might hear asylum seekers being referred to as ‘illegal immigrants.’ We want to change that conversation. These are human beings. They need to be shown the kind of dignity and respect they deserve,” he said.
The protest will take place at Barrie City Hall starting at 8:30 p.m., with the vigil to start at 9 p.m. Attendees are asked to provide their own candles.
For more information, click here to visit the event Facebook page.