Fabletters On Canada’s Racism Problem

Dear Ceanray,

In our previous letters, and conversations outside of this blog we frequently discuss issues of inequality in terms of gender inequality and feminism. There is an inequality that we have not discussed in depth, yet one which is making international headlines: racism. Specifically, racism in Winnipeg, Canada. Have you read the article from Maclean’s concerning this?

The article states “The Manitoba capital is deeply divided along ethnic lines. It manifestly does not provide equal opportunity for Aboriginals. And it is quickly becoming known for the subhuman treatment of its First Nations citizens, who suffer daily indignities and appalling violence. Winnipeg is arguably becoming Canada’s most racist city.”

I am curious as to the benefit of the headline “Winnipeg is Canada’s Most Racist City.” The mayor of Winnipeg has vowed to take action, though one would think that he should be taking action on race issues regardless of whether they were national headlines or not.

The facts and statistics presented in that article are hard to argue with, as are the stories of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. One in three people in the prairies believe that “many racial stereotypes are accurate”? It is shocking and scary, but you have to wonder what that statistic would be worldwide.

It is indisputable that Winnipeg has a race problem, but what about the rest of the world? Focusing on the race problem in Winnipeg is good because it means action will be taken there; but when people living in other parts of the world read about Winnipeg being the most racist city, they might dispel the thought that their city may be very racist too.

Not being the most racist city doesn’t mean your city doesn’t have some sort of racial problems. Any case of racism, anywhere in the world, is more than what should be occurring. Seeing as you live in Winnipeg, what are your thoughts on this?

Sherina

Dear Sherina,

The article recently published by Maclean’s magazine you previously mentioned has had Winnipeggers’ tongues wagging. The story of Tina Fontaine mentioned in the article is one that caught my eye long before it made its way into national headlines. She was fifteen when she died – the age I am now. Concerns that should have been dealt with long before her death were simply ignored, and the discovery of her body tossed in the Red River was an accident. She was Aboriginal.

The statistics on missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada are horrifying – according to the NWAC database only 53% of of murder cases involving aboriginal women and girls have led to charges of homicide. Aboriginal women are also three times as likely to be killed by a stranger as non-Aboriginal women are.

Racism is an issue that affects Canada far beyond Winnipeg’s borders. It would be foolish to ignore evidence that the way Winnipeg treats Aboriginal people who call this city home is appalling. The article was titled “Welcome to Winnipeg, where Canada’s racism problem is at its worst.”

While I agree that the racism problem in Winnipeg needs to be dealt with, I think those who read the article and subsequently thought to themselves “hey, my city might be a little racist – but at least we’re not that bad’ need a wake-up call. Racism is an issue that extends far beyond my city’s borders. The fact that racism continues to exist in Canada and the rest of the world in 2015 is something we should all be actively trying to fix.

Ceanray

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