In a recent article, Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman hopes that two days of an anti-racism summit will become the catalyst for leveling the playing field amongst Canadians. According to Howard Berman, “the focus should not be on talk. Talk is cheap. It must be on action.” Any anti-racism summit effort that does not use a transitional model that enhances relationships is doomed to fail.

According to the article, Winnipeg mayor hopes summit sparks real change on racial inclusion, the two-day anti-racism summit at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights included many Indigenous people sharing stories about how they are discriminated against in Winnipeg. Examples of this discrimination included mistreatment by store clerks and negative non-verbal communication techniques.

Mayor Bowman said that his administration proposes to develop an action plan based on the information collected at anti-racism summit.

The focus of that anti-racism summit was to bring people together for a common cause. However, conference planners excluded the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Manitoba Metis Federation which could prove detrimental to efforts to improve race relations in Canada.

Why is it important to include the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Manitoba Metis Federation in the anti-racism summit? 

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is an organization of First Nations leaders in ManitobaCanada. First Nations peoples had settled and established trade routes across Canada by 1,000 BCto 500 BC. These Aboriginal people interacted with Europeans as far back as 1000 AD. However, prolonged contact came only after Europeans established permanent settlements in the 17th and 18th centuries. The first nations of the Wabanaki Confederacy of Acadia fought six colonial wars against the British and their native allies. In the second war, Queen Anne’s War, the British conquered Acadia(1710). The sixth and final colonial war between the nations of France and Great Britain (1754-1763), resulted in the British conquest of Canada.Living conditions for Indigenous deteriorated quickly due to the depletion of Bison for which the indigenous people depended upon heavily.

Between 1875 and 1885, settlers and hunters of European descent contributed to hunting the North American Bison almost to extinction. Shortly thereafter the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway brought large numbers of European settlers west who encroached on former Indigenous territory. European Canadians established governments, police forces, and courts of law with different foundations than indigenous practices. Various epidemics continued to devastate Indigenous communities.

Most of those nations that agreed to treaties had negotiated for a guarantee of food and help to begin farming. When the Bison disappeared Lieutenant-Governor Edgar Dewdney cut rations to Indigenous people in an attempt to reduce government costs. Between 1880 and 1885, approximately 3,000 Indigenous people starved to death in the North-Western Territory.

The history of the Indigenous people is rich with tragedy and betrayal from European countries. The the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Manitoba Metis Federation represent the opposition to a rich tradition that has perpetrated the racism that lead to the anti-racism summit.

Herein lays the problem. The only way that the anti-racism summit can prove effective is to include representatives from the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Manitoba Metis Federation and utilize a process that will minimize any negative actions or reactions from opposing factions.

What additional strategy should Mayor Brian Bowman use as a supplement to the anti-racism summit?

Mayor Brian Bowman has opted to develop plan of action with limited input from the community. This is paramount to the take it or leave it approach. This approach will continue to create tension over the long run with the Indigenous people and government officials.

As an alternative, Mayor Bowman will need to use a strategic planning process if the efforts of the anti-racism conference are to prove beneficial. The strategic planning process can be accomplished in two basic steps:

  1. Develop a shared vision
  2. Develop goals, objectives, timelines, and cost based on the developed shared vision

The Winnipeg anti-racism summit is doomed to fail with out the implementation of the appropriate transformational process.

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

 

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