Thousands of people joined Ottawa’s anti-racism march last week, including the prime minister. On Friday, Justin Trudeau took a knee as part of the demonstration, and remained kneeling and in silence for nine minutes. This is the same amount of time the U.S. police officer had his knee on George Floyd’s neck.

On Friday, June 5, thousands of people marched through downtown Ottawa to protest anti-black racism and police impunity.

After making a speech that morning, addressing the issue of systemic racism in Canada, the prime minister joined those demonstrating at Parliament Hill.

During the peaceful protest, Trudeau took a knee alongside the crowds around him, and the group remained silent and kneeled for nine minutes. This is the same time period that a police officer had his knee on George Floyd’s neck.

Trudeau was spotted wearing a black cloth mask, as advised by Ottawa Public Health, and personal security was present.

Per CTV News, the PM was seen to be nodding in response to speakers, one of whom said there is no “middle-ground” when it comes to racism.

"You are either a racist or an anti-racist," they said.

Ottawa’s anti-racism march was one of several events organized across the country, following a week of similar protests and rallies around the world.

 

Ottawa’s protest was organized by the No Peace Until Justice Coalition (NPJC), who described it as a “peaceful event” intended to show solidarity with black individuals killed at the hands of police.

It follows similar demonstrations across the globe, sparked by the death of George Floyd in the U.S.

Trudeau’s participation in the march followed criticism from several leading Canadian politicians, who accused the prime minister of failing to take a stronger stance against President Donald Trump's controversial response to protesters in the U.S.

Trudeau’s 21 second silence became a particularly significant talking point last week, and was later mocked on The Late Late Show with James Corden.

"Over the last few weeks, we've seen a large number of Canadians suddenly awakened to the fact that the discrimination that is a lived reality for far too many of our fellow citizens is something that needs to end, and that is what we are working on," Trudeau said on Friday, prior to protesting.

"We need to make stronger and bigger changes, and that's exactly what we're going to work on," he added.

*This article's cover image is for illustrative purposes only.

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