After failing to include Black Lives Matter Vancouver (BLMV)—or any Black or trans organizers or speakers—in Saturday’s (January 21) Women’s March on Washington in Vancouver, and subsequently deleting a discussion thread surrounding the topic on the event's Facebook page, coordinators of the local rally have extended a formal apology to BLMV.
The message, which was sent directly from Vancouver’s organizing committee to BLMV via Facebook message, was published to the Women’s March on Washington - Vancouver event page by Canadian Women’s March, the demonstration’s parent group, earlier today (January 25).
The full statement can be read below:
The organizers of the March have great regret that in the process of organizing for the WMW Vancouver, Black Lives Matter was not properly included in the work leading up to and the execution of the march itself.
This shortcoming on our part does not properly represent the core values of the WMW movement. These values include the very foundations of intersectional feminism, inclusiveness at all costs, and fighting to push society to understand that systemic racism can be just as prevalent on any side the "cause" coin, even if it is shielded by progressive rhetoric.
The breakdown of inclusiveness and the subsequent events on social media is something the March organizers are all truly sorry for.
Furthermore, our first statement to Black Lives Matter should have been more thoughtfully outlined.
We are hoping Black Lives Matter will accept an invitation to talk and collaborate on this further in the venue or format of their choice. We want to get together to listen and learn on how to do better.
To anyone who has been affected by this before and after the march, we are sorry.
While we never intended to exclude Black Lives Matter Vancouver from the march, we understand that is exactly what happened.
We also realize that going forward, BLM doesn't just need to be a speaker at our event but they actually need a spot at the organizing table.
Our lack of experience with truly intersectional feminism and privilege made it hard for us to recognize the missteps we made and continued to make.
We apologize to Black Lives Matter and any other marginalized communities that were hurt or angered by our lack of inclusivity.
Now we want to do better. We need to.
We have reached out to BLM today and hope that we can work together to provide meaningful inclusion in the days and weeks ahead.
Thank you to those for "calling us out", while our initial reaction was with hurt and defensiveness, we now realize that this is how we grow as feminists. We make mistakes, we own them and we move forward with the knowledge that keeps us from repeating them.
Daniella Barreto, one of BLMV's organizers, confirmed to the Straight that BLMV has responded to the women's message. She added that BLMV will be scheduling a date and time to sit down with the coordinators to continue the conversation in-person.
"We are encouraged that this dialogue is happening and we are thankful that so many members of our communities in Vancouver have been supportive of this process," Barreto told the Straight by phone. "We look forward to discussing how this isn't only about BLM, but how Black voices and trans voices are so crucial to any feminist action."
The apology comes after Canadian Women's March was notified of the lack of Black, queer, and trans voices in the sister rally in Vancouver—an oversight that caused the local protest to fall victim to the very criticisms that plagued, and continue to plague, the original event in Washington, D.C.
On January 22, the national committee extended an apology to both BLMV and B.C.'s Trans Alliance Society via Twitter and noted that it would be "requesting one of our local YVR organizers to step down".
The following day, Canadian Women's March was once again alerted when coordinators of the local rally appeared to be leaving unconstructive comments on BLMV's Facebook page. "We apologize for the intrusion onto BLM's space. National will convene to address tonight," the group tweeted.
Today's published message is the result of that meeting, as well as one with coordinators of Vancouver's march.