surrey canada day

Bands pull out of Canada Day event after Surrey declines to make statement about anti-racism

A number of Canadian bands have decided not to participate in a virtual concert they were due to play for Canada Day this year, citing the fact that the Canadian municipality hosting the event does not have a strong enough stance against racism.

Musical acts Mother MotherSaid The Whale, Daniel Wesley and The Beaches have publicly taken a stand against the City of Surrey due to its lack of comment about systemic racism amid current events, and also its failure to respond to a petition from residents asking it to make a formal statement in support of Black lives.

"It has been brought to our attention that despite a petition from the community with over 3,000 signatures, the City of Surrey's leaders have not publicly committed to dismantling racism and have been unwilling to engage in a dialogue," Mother Mother wrote on its social media accounts on Thursday.

"In solidarity with that community, we have decided to step down from the Canada Day celebration."

The petition, which has now garnered another 1,000-or-so signatures within a day, points out that approximately 60 per cent of Surrey's population is comprised of people of colour, and that the city has the largest population of Black Canadians within B.C.

And yet, "unlike many other Canadian cities this past week, our hometown of Surrey has yet to make a public statement committing to anti-racism in our city," it reads.

"Please help us encourage the City of Surrey to show solidarity with Black and Indigenous communities by making a public statement committing to anti-racism in our city. These are not just American issues. Racism and bigotry affect our communities right here at home — everyday."

Fans have lauded the bands' actions, thanking them for using their platforms to draw attention to the issue.

"Bravo, guys. The right move. 100% support. Do the right thing, Surrey," one Twitter user wrote to Said the Whale.

"Standing with you and so happy you're using your voices to call for action," another tweeted at The Beaches.

As a result, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum has issued a release, saying that "there is no place for racism, discrimination, or intolerance. Surrey is unequivocally strengthened by our diversity."

"We do not take this for granted and we are constantly looking at how we can strengthen the diverse and inclusive society we have in Surrey," he adds.

"Despite the gains we have made, racism against Black, Indigenous, Asian and people of all creeds, colour and sexual orientation has not been eradicated. I can assure you that we will continue to condemn and eliminate all acts of hate and discrimination in our city."

Thirty-four other acts — including Bif Naked, 54-40 and  Sleepy Gonzales — are still due to participate in the July 1 online show.

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