When Tim Edwards saw the racist sign posted on a fence near the Starlight Drive-In, he took it as a sign that something needs to change.
“It was myself and my wife that passed it,” Edwards said, adding that they first saw the sign at about 7 a.m. Tuesday, July 24. “I’ve been dealing with racism all my life. To see this for the second time in our territory, it hurt.”
After calling the RCMP, which he said were on scene to take down the sign at about 8:30 a.m., Edwards, a Splatsin First Nation man, is organizing an anti-racism walk Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. at the Splatsin Community Centre in Enderby.
“It’s been going on longer than our grandparents have been alive. There hasn’t been enough involvement. It arises and we sit back and we get angry and say what should have been done, but we don’t do anything,” Edwards said.
In May 2018, Splatsin First Nation and the City of Enderby stood together against vandalism at the Enderby Skate Park where prejudicial comments were spray-painted on the track.
“This is unacceptable racial defacing,” said Wayne Christian, Splatsin Chief, known as Kukpi7 Christian, in a statement posted to both the Splatsin and city websites following the May vandalism.
“We will not tolerate discrimination. Splatsin appreciates the diligent work done by the City of Enderby to quickly remove the offensive graffiti and to find and charge the criminals.”
In an attempt to band together following the most recent incident, walkers are asked to dress in blue, a colour of peace. Edwards said he has reached out to local dignitaries from surrounding communities and bands, including Enderby, Armstrong, Splatsin First Nation and Okanagan Indian Band.
For Edwards, it’s important that people of all backgrounds from the community are involved in the walk. So far, Edwards said he has 100 people ready to don blue and walk beside him.
“I really want it to be heard. This isn’t just a First Nations problem,” Edwards said. “It’s been there all the time. I don’t think anyone has really tried to create an event like this.”
Edward hopes that through the community banding together, his kids won’t have to deal with the incidents of racism he has throughout his life.
“We can push through this,” Edwards said. “It’s time we stand together, fight together.”
Following the incident on Splatsin land, there have been several reports of multiple mushroom-picking advisory signs being defaced around the Elephant Hill wildfire area, which were put up by the Skeetchestn, High Bar, Whispering Pines and Bonaparte bands.
Two signs near Cache Creek, one near Clinton, one in Kamloops and one near Ashcroft have been vandalized.
“It’s not so much an isolated incident here. It seems to be a culmination of stuff,” said RCMP Cpl. Mike Mucha.
The sign in Kamloops was covered in spray paint that promoted white supremacy, such as “white is right” and “white power.”
—With files from Kamloops this Week.