Degroot, born in Ontario and now living in Winnipeg, was selling yard signs at the Winnipeg Diversity Rally Against Hate Saturday afternoon at the Legislature. The signs, which read “No matter where you’re from, we’re glad you’re our neighbour”, were selling for $10, with half of that going to the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council, which operates Welcome Place, a transition aid for refugees coming to Manitoba.
“I said that’s the message I want everyone to see when they come to my neighbourhood,” she said. “I live in St. Boniface and we have a lot of Syrian refugees that I see in the neighbourhood and I want them to feel welcome.”
In all, upwards of 300 people attended the anti-racism rally, which fell on the same day as a sparsely-attended gathering against “fake news” and mainstream media.
The rally against hate, meanwhile, comes at a time when Winnipeg police have said they’ve noticed an uptick in hate-crime reports — mostly deemed mischief — and in the aftermath of violent racial clashes south of the border.
“I’m behind diversity and inclusivity,” Degroot said. “I think those are our biggest tools. Our best tools for peace are inclusivity and welcoming diversity.”
NDP MLA Nahanni Fontaine was among the speakers who addressed the large crowd at the Legislature and said Manitobans need to continue to embrace a culture of “love and respect and equity.”