Nearly 300 people came together to celebrate Ethan Bear and denounce racism in Edmonton over the weekend.
Bear, a defenceman for the Edmonton Oilers, had been the target of racist comments and messages on social media following the teams’ four game sweep at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets.
The rally was organized by “Superfan Magoo”, and well known comedian Don Burnstick.
Burnstick spoke to the crowd, called Bear a friend, and told how he personally watched Oiler fans shout racist remarks in the past.
“Fifteen years ago, the Edmonton Oilers had five black players. I sat in row two2 behind the net,” he told those gathered. “And the stuff that came out of the mouths of those fans when one of those players turned the puck over was incredible.
“When you listen to this stuff, when you sit and didn’t comment on those attacks on Ethan, you are complacent.”
Bear is from the Ochapowace Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.
Chief Margaret Bear, along with council and band members made the more than eight hour drive to be at the rally.
She said racism is everywhere across Canada and the world.
She urged people to love instead of hate.
“We bring a message of hope, reconciliation , a spirit of kindness and unconditional love” she told attendees.
Frog Lake First Nation Chief Greg Desjarlais said the pain needs to stop.
“We’ve been silent too long. We’ve been hurt.” he said. “Our people endured hardship 150 plus years. When is it going to stop?”
There were many Oilers’ jerseys, mostly wearing #74 for Ethan Bear. And signs denouncing racism, and promoting love, songs, hoop dancing, and a round dance.
Bear paid a quick visit, shaking hands as he drove his truck by the rally.
Those who attended, said enough is enough for racism.
“Personally myself, I have been a victim of racism playing sports, so that’s why I came today, to show my support.” one person told APTN News.
Another told APTN, “We need to get it right at some point. Where we all get along, and share this land. And we take care of one another. We love one another.”