Winnipeg mayor gets choked up after magazine calls city 'Canada’s most racist'
Josh Dehaas, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, January 22, 2015 3:10PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 22, 2015 7:59PM EST
After a national magazine said that Winnipeg is “arguably Canada’s most racist city,” its mayor is promising to address the problem.
“My wife is of Ukrainian heritage; my family is Métis,” said Mayor Brian Bowman at a news conference, where he appeared to be on the verge of tears.
“I want my boys to be as proud of both those family lines.”
Maclean’s magazine gave the city the disgraceful title of “most racist” after a number of high-profile attacks on Aboriginals. Those include a white high school teacher’s comment on Facebook that Aboriginals “have contributed nothing,” the unsolved death of Aboriginal teenager Tina Fontaine, and the sexual assault of another Aboriginal girl, Rinelle Harper, who was left for dead in the Assiniboine River.
Ovide Mercredi, a former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, who is Cree, spoke alongside Mayor Bowman.
Mercredi thanked Maclean’s for writing about the issue and said that racism is “not something that I would wish upon anyone.”
He said that racism is not just a problem for Winnipeg’s Aboriginal community.
“It’s experienced by people of colour and white people as well,” he said. “This is a national problem.”
Nancy Macdonald, the Maclean’s associate editor who wrote the piece, told CTV that some of Winnipeg’s Aboriginals fear racism every time they go outdoors.
Macdonald pointed to what Rosanna Deerchild, an Aboriginal Winnipeg writer and broadcaster, told her during the magazine’s investigation.
“[Every few weeks] someone honks at me, or yells out ‘How much’ from a car window, or calls me a stupid squaw, or tells me to go back to the rez,” said Deerchild.
“Every time, it still feels like getting punched in the face.”
Macdonald’s article also cited polling data from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, which found that nine in 10 Manitobans reported hearing a negative comment about an indigenous person in the previous year – the highest of any province.
Manitoba has the highest proportion of Aboriginals of any province, at 17 per cent, according to Statistics Canada. Approximately four per cent of Canadians are Aboriginal.
The writer also pointed to polling data from the Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration that found one in three people polled in Saskatchewan and Manitoba believed “many racial stereotypes are accurate,” compared to 23 per cent in Alberta. She used regional data because local data was not available.
Mayor Bowman agreed with Mercredi that the racism problem goes far beyond Winnipeg, but committed to fighting it at home.
“We’re not going to end racism tomorrow,” he said, “but we’re sure as hell going to try.”
With a report from CTV Winnipeg