On Tuesday, May 23rd, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are celebrating the organization’s 150th anniversary of their creation which is being dubbed “RCMP150”.
While many across Canada are celebrating the nation’s original police force and all they’ve accomplished, some Victorians planned a counter-celebration to bring awareness to the organization’s history of oppression.
On the afternoon of May 22nd, a group of activists and community members gathered on the front lawn of the Legislature to protest the event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The group met and shared food, speakers, music and they will be participating in a collaborative art project while they acknowledged what they say are sites of oppression and exploitation that still exist after 150 years of the RCMP’s existence.
“For everyone who, like us, want nothing to do with this grotesque legacy and present, we are hosting this event to recognize and honour the continuous resistance that has always happened in the face of the RCMP’s existence and everything it represents,” said the event’s organizers on their Facebook event page.
“From the bright flame of Indigenous Resurgence, to the struggles for abolition led by Black communities, fights that No One Be Illegal, radical labour organizing, sex workers keeping each other safe and so much more, we wish to bring people together to recognize that the torch of resisting the RCMP’s violence and power has been burning bright from its inception.”
What the protesters want is for local, provincial and federal governments to recognize what they call the “actual historical reality” and the fact that the “RCMP150” celebration is taking place on stolen land which was taken by colonial forces which were upheld and enforced by the RCMP.
They interrupted traffic on the corner of Belleville Street and Government Street where the protesters gathered in a circle and some painted a massive art piece which reads “150 years of Resistance”. The group had to negotiate with police through the process to negotiate enough time for the art to be finished and for the paint to dry.
A banner was also hung from the bell tower at the Royal BC Museum which called for the abolishment of the RCMP.
— Martin Girard (@rulebreakersbc) May 22, 2023
In solidarity with folks on unceded & unsurrendered Lək̓ʷəŋən homelands. Folks from Defund 604 crossed the Salish Sea to attend Honouring the Resistance to #RCMP150. #NoPrideInGenocide #RCMP #BCRCMP pic.twitter.com/oRsG8pjh1o
— Defund604Network (@defund604) May 22, 2023
The RCMP150 celebration webpage paints the organization as one that serves and protects all communities while working to become more inclusive for and trusted by Canadians.
“The 150th anniversary will give us the chance to walk with humility and reconciliation by showing tangible action items taken to learn from our experiences,” says the RCMP150 webpage.
“With this, we can walk the path to becoming a more modern, diverse, inclusive and trusted organization.”
No RCMP hosted events are scheduled for Vancouver Island or Greater Victoria communities as a part of RCMP150.