In a city known internationally as a gateway to Asia, many Vancouverites are asking if a Black Lives Matter chapter in the West Coast is necessary. For Cicely-Belle Blain, an artist, organizer and founder of Black Lives Matter-Vancouver (BLM-Vancouver) will tell you, yes, it is necessary to have this chapter, because black lives matter in Vancouver. And she’s not alone: last month, at the chapter’s first public event, a political mobilization at the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery, drew over 500 dedicated activists and supporters. No small achievement for a community whose history remains largely absent within the national Canadian consciousness.
For today’s feature interview, Cicely shares Black Lives Matter-Vancouver’s—the second city to organize a BLM chapter in Canada—history, goals and visions, the challenges of organizing within Diasporic communities, the shared history of slavery in Canada and the United States, and why women are at the forefront of social movements.
Black Lives Matter is a chapter-based organization working for the validity of Black life. We are working to (re)build the Black liberation movement. #BlackLivesMatter was created in 2012 after Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted for his crime.#BlackLivesMatter is working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.
The Black Lives Matter Vancouver Chapter was started in 2016 with the aim of standing in solidarity mainly with our friends and family doing great work in Toronto but also all the other BLM chapters across North America. Our goals are to re-visibilize the Black community in Vancouver and BC after histories of erasure that have occured here, support the unique struggles of Black folks here such as immigration, housing and cultural connection and continue to celebrate blackness.
Cicely-Belle Blain is a queer, black, femme poet, artist, full time childcare provider and community organizer who has been a settler on Coast Salish lands for four years. Originally from London, England, she has been working on bringing accessibility and inclusivity to spaces, mainly at UBC, where she studied European Studies and Russian. Cicely-Belle’s current projects include co-founding a chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement in Vancouver, writing a novel on black queer love and archiving the history of racialized student activism across North America.
Cicely-Belle Blain, Black Lives Matter-Vancouver, Mariachi Flor de Toloache, Elysse Cloma, Jessia Lio, Karina Tapnio, Mitch Lee, Jordan Leask, and Stefanie Rangel.
Intro/outro music: “Rainbow” by Emilie Simon. Remix from the original.
“Jazzy French” by bensoundmusic.com
“I Guess So” by Steve Combs. Remix from the original.
“Sweet Georgia Brown” by Latche Swing
“Del Carnaval” by The Juanitos
Mariachi Flor de Toloache