Black Lives Matter-Vancouver at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival

Black Lives Matter at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival

This year we are thrilled that the VQFF has recognized the importance of including Black and Indigenous stories in their programming. We are encouraged to see that some organizations are focusing on groups that are often left out within the queer community. There is a profound need for Vancouver to engage with the existence and stories of Black queer and trans folks, based on some of the backlash we received from our requests around the Pride parade. The VQFF creating space for our stories is an incredible opportunity for engagement. Nonetheless we have heard some concerns about our involvement with the festival.

BLM-Vancouver focuses on centering the voices of Black people in Vancouver, particularly uplifting the voices of queer and trans folks. The spotlight on Black stories at the VQFF is an opportunity for us to engage with the queer community in a way that is more accessible for some. It is in this spirit that we agreed to be a partner in the spotlight on BLM many months ago and it is in this spirit that we continue to be involved.

BLM-Vancouver is aware of concerns from the community, particularly those in support of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement. We have spoken and discussed these concerns with certain groups focused on this issue in Vancouver who understand our situation and recognize that while our intent is to support all communities of colour, we also have specific and necessary work to do around centering Black voices. We have read and understand the recently released M4BL policy statement. We wholeheartedly support its content and stance regarding the Palestinian struggle and we also recognize the important work our involvement in the festival this year will accomplish for Black queer and trans folks in this city.

We cannot separate Canada from anywhere else in the world where colonial oppression exists because white supremacy operates globally. It has a real, violent and destructive effect on the lives and communities of people of colour and Indigenous peoples.

The VQFF was willing to meet with BLM-Vancouver to discuss our concerns and how the organization hopes to grow with the knowledge it has gained. We agree that tangible, critical inclusion of silenced voices is necessary and we hope appropriate conversations and healing can occur in the near future. SFPIRG has offered assistance and support to the VQFF in bridging some of the gaps to dialogue and access between groups who have been affected by the actions and inactions of the VQFF in the past. We hope this invitation is accepted. BLM-Vancouver is also exploring options with other groups to screen films in the future so that more people can attend.

We look forward to the VQFF spotlight and sharing Black queer films with the city. We are grateful for the opportunity to raise the voices of queer and trans Black folks who are so often excluded in Vancouver.

Sincerely,
Black Lives Matter-Vancouver