The dream of Reconciliation
There has been much talk recently about the city's and our Federal government's commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous people. It is timely given the one year anniversary of the Macleans article just passed, where Winnipeg was named the most racist city in Canada. Our local newspaper has had several articles about Indigenous people experiencing ill treatment by some cab drivers in Winnipeg. This treatment has run the gambit from sexual advances, asking for the fare upfront, or taking them to Main Street Project rather than their home. This treatment is not exclusive to cab rides. Indigenous people experience being followed in department stores to make sure they don't steal while they are shopping. They also report having their goods and receipts checked in detail when leaving a store even where this is not the norm for people who are white. We are told this is not unusual, and the more marginalized an Indigenous person is due to their economic status, mental health issues or level of education, the more difficulty they have. Many people that attend the Oak Table tell us they experience this
To add to this we are also know we have third world standards in terms of housing, access to water and education on Manitoba reserves. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled last week on a complaint made in 2007 that our federal government discriminated against children on reserves in its funding of child welfare services. “The panel acknowledges the suffering of those First Nations children and families who are or have been denied an equitable opportunity to remain together or to be reunited in a timely manner,” the ruling said.
If we, as Canadians heard about this treatment targeted at a particular group of people in another country, we would be incensed. We would be calling on our government to send a strong message about human rights violations, asking them to put sanctions on them. We need to be equally or more incensed about our own human rights violations, our own racism. It will only end if people use their white privilege to speak out about the injustice each and every time it is seen. Let's look at our own backyard, speak up, act with integrity, and make this a better city for all our citizens.