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#AntiRacism #BlackLivesMatter Songs of Action, Reflection and Hope

BLM Protest in Guelph

Thousands of people attended the anti-racism protest in Guelph on Saturday.


" I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will." - Sam Cooke

Award-winning musician Andrew Craig shared a powerful rendition of Sam Cooke's classic with the thousands of us who marched in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in Guelph today. At SVS, we recognize that our clients regularly experience the massive impacts of the systemic racism embedded in Canada's colonial history - racism that affects Black, Indigenous and People of Colour across this country. And we say enough is enough. Our team is committed to being a part of the change that's coming. 


Songs with messages of hope, resistance, action

Music has always been an important part of our internal culture at SVS - playing, sharing, and experiencing music that has meaning for us. Throughout the history of the Civil Rights Movement, music has been a primary thread woven through movements and events - with messages of hope, resistance, action, learning, reflection, and vision for a positive future. The Civil Rights inspired music of the 60s and early 70s, the Anti-Aparthied anthems and songs from the 60s into the 90s, the music of the American Indian Movement that continues today... So much history and so much inspiration and vision in the music... and so many voices for positive change. So much hope.


Personal journeys about systemic racism

Each of us is on our own personal learning journey about systemic racism. For many of us, music is a part of that personal learning journey. As a small part of this journey, we asked SVS team members to "think about the music that moves you in the context of #BlackLivesMatter and #AntiRacism" and "provide some key song choices that move you" to reflect, get inspired, and most importantly, to act. The resulting song list is below. And below that, some further reflections from people who contributed their thoughts to this small project.


Song List - Click Here for Spotify Songlist Link - YouTube Selections Below

Andrew Bubar:

Roman Ciecwierz:

Leah Culver:

Jody Duncan:

Alison Fraser:

Nichole Fraser:

Alison Gamble:

Erich Keyser:

Erin Knight:

Meaghan Langille:

Scott Mackay:

Wendy McDonnell:

Keegan McGrath:

Allanah Perissinotto: 

Don Richardson:

Beate Schwirtlich:

Jessica Steiner:

Laura Taylor:

Rachel White:

Maeghan Willms: 

Jeremy Shute:

Some throw back tunes for the list highlighting the ongoing fight against racism and the push for equal rights and justice in the Britain, Jamaica, South Africa, the US and Ontario.


BLM Crowd in Guelph


Some comments as we assembled this song list and continued our learning paths...

Jeremy Shute:

I think the threads of colonialism run deep, and we see the effects in systemic racism with our clients as we are seeing them in other racialized communities. We could also reference or promote the local book “Laying the Bed: The Native Origins of the Underground Railroad”. It shows how some First Nations were part of the Underground Railroad and helped people escaping slavery.


Beate Schwirtlich:

Just a thought . . . it would be cool to have gender parity or something close to it for our list of songs.


Rachel White:

I think my take home from this week is that now is not a time to be crushed by the weight of how terrible this situation is, but angry and empowered to join the tidal wave of people demanding change. I’m working on self-awareness of how I benefit from racist systems that continue to oppress visual minorities, holding myself accountable to learning about the experience of visual minorities and staying in conversation about the community/nation I want to live in. 


Keegan McGrath:

I think SVS should acknowledge the role that we all play in a racist culture. Even if it’s not purposeful on the part of individuals, racism is baked into the rules of the game that we all play. I think that’s one of the key things I’ve been learning over the past little while. I found this graphic below to be eye-opening:




Andrew Peach:

I definitely think it’s important for SVS to put out a statement in support of Black Lives Matter and in support of Anti-Racist organizing in the United States and Canada and we should absolutely recognize the effects of systemic racism and stand in solidarity with those who fight against it. That being said, I have to express that I’m feeling some discomfort with this exercise. Sharing music is a great way for us to stay connected through these troubling times, but I am uncomfortable about participating in this activity as an outward facing exercise. To me it feels like we’re speaking about our own interests at a time when we should be stepping back to listen and to learn. One way I believe we can do this is by purposefully stepping back and amplifying Black and Indigenous voices on our platforms and by sharing great resources and acknowledging that we need to take the time to learn and educate ourselves. The resources Meaghan shared below are a really great start.


Meaghan Langille:

We’re in the midst of watershed moment for the Black Lives Matter movement and drawing light to systemic racism experienced by Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of colour. Now is a critical time for not only listening and learning but also taking action in solidarity with these movements. Below are some resources we could highlight:

Also I’ve seen some resources shared in this thread so I thought I would add this doc into the mix. It’s a scaffolded anti-racism resources that points you to resources based on where you or the people you are engaging with are at with regard to anti-racism - "A Working Document for Scaffolding Anti-Racism resources"


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