Black Lives Matter Activists Seeing Resistance To Message In Canada

Oliver VanDervoort - Author

Apr. 19 2016, Updated 9:50 a.m. ET

Black Lives Matter activists are having problems finding traction in a number of places in the United States, and now they’re finding trouble getting recognition in the Great White North as well. Black Lives Matter group leaders have recently been left out of meetings with Toronto Mayor John Tory despite the fact he met with other African-American community leaders in recent days. Those who claim the Black Lives Matter group have been shunned in this Canadian province are also seeing some push back from the mayor who claims it was they who refused to meet with Tory in private.

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The efforts come after Toronto city leaders have talked recently about the African-American community in the area feeling as though their voices aren’t being heard. According to the Star, Tory told local media he understands some black Torontonians are feeling more disrespected and ignored than in recent years. The mayor also said he is reaching out to “some leaders of our black community.”

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At issue is the mayor’s answer to the question as to Black Lives Matter attending any of these meetings. He said quite simply “no they won’t” but wants to be careful in making sure people understand it isn’t from a lack of trying from his office. Tory says he and his aides have sent several emails to various people they know to be leaders of Black Lives Matter asking for private meetings, but they have rebuffed every time. At this point, Tory says there won’t be any more emails going out. He added it’s up to those Black Lives Matter activists to issue the olive branch at this point.

Toronto is far from the only place the movement is meeting some rather formidable hurdles. The group was started just a few years ago in the aftermath of several police-related shootings of black men, women, and children who the group claims were completely innocent and were targeted because of the color of their skin. The group saw massive enlistment rates when it first came into being and even got support from professional athletes, including a number of the St. Louis Rams.

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Now that the activists have been around for a while, they are facing the same kinds of issues groups like this always do eventually. The Nation points out Black Lives Matter still has an active presence on social media, but their existence elsewhere has become one that tends to fade into the background. Some of this response is simply because those who are involved in the movement do not want to become the story — they want what they are fighting for to remain the only thing being talked about.

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The Nation points out this is part of the problem in a media culture that wants to be able to put a face to Black Lives Matter. There are still plenty of people who understand the movement is plenty valuable, especially in America and Canada, where race relations seem to have taken a step back in recent years. The group has even taken center stage during various times of the 2016 Presidential election thanks to Donald Trump calling them out negatively and people like Bernie Sanders making it clear he feels as though the group is raising awareness about the issues they find important.

At the heart of the controversy surrounding many who refuse to meet with activists, such as Toronto’s mayor, is a feeling as though the people in the group aren’t going about getting their message out the right way. That will need to change if Black Lives Matter wants to have a seat at the table moving forward.

[Photo by Ted S. Warren/AP Images]


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