18 Apr A year of systemic change
Nine minutes and 29 seconds.
That’s how long Derek Chauvin, a white police officer in Minneapolis, knelt on George Floyd’s neck and back according to videos of the incident that went viral last summer and sparked protests not only across the United States but around the world.
Here in Canada, protesters held demonstrations in major cities, including Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa, to show solidarity with Americans and to highlight racism in Canada.
Ottawa-based photojournalist Spencer John Colby, who covered multiple protests for Carleton University’s The Charlatan, was named the first-place winner in this year’s Photojournalism category for his “Photographing Ottawa’s Protests in 2020: A Collection of Work. ”
Colby’s work focused on three protests in Ottawa: a Black Lives Matter protest that occurred on June 5, 2020; a protest following the acquittal of an officer in the death of Abdirahman Abdi that occurred on Oct. 20, 2020 and a three-day protest involving the Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition, Justice for Abdirahman group and KZ Land Protectors that occurred between Nov. 19 to Nov. 21, 2020.
“It [was] my job to capture these protests, which [were] a result of a wide range of events happening across the country, [including] the death of Joyce Echaquan in a hospital north of Montreal and the Mi’kmaq fishing rights in Nova Scotia,” Colby said in an interview. “It’s always important to know what is happening nationally as many of these events can have a national, provincial, and even local impact.”
According to Colby, safety is a top priority when covering these types of stories.
“Being in the middle of protests can be daunting at first. There are a lot of emotions felt by many people, you don’t necessarily know if, when and where the crowd is going to be moving so you have to be mindful of your surroundings,” Colby said.