Mayor admits Winnipeg’s racism problem, wants city to lead nation in ‘love for one another’

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman took a cover story by a national magazine claiming his city was the most racist in the country as a challenge to “turn this ship around.”

APTN National News
WINNIPEG–Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman took a cover story by a national magazine claiming his city was the most racist in the country as a challenge to “turn this ship around.”

Bowman said he wanted Winnipeg to “face this head-on as one community” and “shine a light on the problems we do have in Winnipeg.”

A cover story by Maclean’s magazine claimed Canada has a bigger race problem than the U.S. The story focused on Winnipeg claiming racism in the city was the “ugliest” in the country.

While the article had little in the way of stats to bolster the claim Winnipeg was the most racist city in the country, that data it did publish showed the Prairies were the most racist region in Canada.

Still Bowman, who is Metis, did not shirk away from the issue.

“We are here today to call on all Winnipeggers, and all Canadians, to join us to start this path to end racism right here at home and to lead the nation in love for one another,” said Bowman, during a press conference hastily organized to respond to the article.

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman stands at podium during press conference Thursday.
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman stands at podium during press conference Thursday.

Bowman was joined at the microphone by Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Derek Nepinak, former Assembly of First Nations national chief Ovide Mercredi, Manitoba Treaty Commissioner Jamie Wilson and Winnipeg’s chief of police Devon Clunis.

Nepinak agreed Winnipeg, and Canada, had a racism problem.

“I guarantee that right now, someone is having a racist experience in a restaurant or on a street in Winnipeg,” said Nepinak. “What I am here to do is acknowledge the great work of people to challenge racism in the city.”

Mercredi said he also experienced racism.

“It is not something that I would wish upon anyone at any time in their journey,” he said.

Clunis said racism existed all around the world, but that Winnipeg needed to face its own reality.

“We can lead the nation, lead the world in terms of peaceful coexistence,” said Clunis. “The city of Winnipeg is a special place.”

Earlier in the day, AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde said racism was a Canadian problem.

 

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt issued a statement in response to questions about the Maclean’s article that totally ignored the issue of racism.

“Our government believes that Aboriginal peoples should have the same quality of life, the same opportunities and the same choices as all other Canadians,” said part of the statement from Valcourt’s office.

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