In a recent article, the death of an aboriginal teen has sparked discussions on how to improve race relations in the area of the Winnipeg School Division. The Winnipeg mayor has decided to create a website to solicit ideas for overcoming the racial challenges that exist. The Winnipeg School Division will play a major role in overcoming the racial challenges in Winnipeg.

The racial allegations began as a result of The Maclean’s magazine featuring a cover story that claims “Canada has a bigger race problem than America. And it’s ugliest in Winnipeg.” According to the article, “The Manitoba capital is deeply divided along ethnic lines. Its native citizens suffer daily indignities and horrific violence”.

Mayor Brian Bowman has responded by creating a website for the submission of ideas to eliminate racism in Winnipeg. According to one of the mayor’s spokeswoman, the objectives of website is to collect suggestions on “how our city can work collaboratively as a community to work towards eradicating ignorance and intolerance in Winnipeg, and lead our nation forward in inclusivity, equality, and love for one another.”

The troubles that the aboriginal people face begin at the school age. Jacinta Bear, who manages the North End Hockey Program, believes that racism in Winnipeg is the reality of having brown skin. The youth program subsidizes registration fees for indigenous youth and gathers used equipment loaned to players for the season. “Our team has heard it all,” says Bear, whose husband, Dale, has coached the midget team for seven years. “Even opposing coaches and refs call our kids ‘dirty little Indians.’”

“Just keep smiling,” she tells the kids. “Don’t give them the reaction they’re after. There’s something not right in their lives and they’re taking it out on you.” Bear, 34, whose two sons both play for the Knights, takes pains to explain incidents like these are becoming less frequent. Still, these are “heartbreaking lessons” to teach eight-year-olds

Winnipeg is physically divided by the CP rail yards, which cut the primarily Aboriginal North End from the rest of the city. North End Winnipeg looks nothing like the idyllic, tree-lined, middle-class neighbourhoods to the south. It is the poorest and most violent neighbourhood in urban Canada. Many white Winnipeggers have never visited. To Falcon-Ouellette, a Calgary native who moved to Winnipeg from Quebec City, it is “Canada’s greatest shame.”

The neighbourhood is home to two of the country’s three poorest postal codes—the median household income in the North End is $22,293, less than half that of the wider city at $49,790. The homicides that plague the city, earning it the nickname “Murderpeg” and the country’s highest rate of violent crime, are a primarily North End phenomenon. On a recent visit there, a Selkirk Avenue clothing store—one of few remaining businesses on a strip crowded with social service agencies and boarded-up storefronts—was closing for good. The area had simply become too dangerous, the store’s owner explained.

It is noted that one in three or 33% of all North End residents drop out of school before the ninth grade. The North End is considered the poor section of Winnipeg. In America it would be considered the ghetto.

Even one of the Winnipeg School Division teachers expressed his discontent with the aboriginal people. Brad Badiunk, a Kelvin High School teacher wrote on his Facebook account, “Oh Goddd how long are aboriginal people going to use what happened as a crutch to suck more money out of Canadians? They have contributed NOTHING to the development of Canada. Just standing with their hand out. Get to work, tear the treaties and shut the FK up already. Why am I on the hook for their cultural support?”

Teachers are the gate keepers of racism. If a child does not meet up to their expectations they are filtered through a different process than those students who do. Providing the aboriginal people with an unbiased education is the position that the Winnipeg School Division should embrace.

This requires a two step process:

  1. Evaluate the culture of each school to determine if classroom racism is prominent
  2. Promote positive racial teacher student classroom relationships

The Winnipeg School Division can have a massive impact on the future of Winnipeg and the aboriginal people by following these basic steps.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
www.positiveracialrelationships.com
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012

 

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~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President

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