January 23, 2015 7:23 pm
Updated: January 24, 2015 2:50 pm

Bleak picture painted of racism in Saskatchewan

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Watch above: Winnipeg is in the spotlight with a Maclean’s article that claims racism is at its worst in our fellow prairie city. However, the article also paints a fairly bleak picture of racism in Saskatchewan, with our province coming in a close second. Kim Smith looks at what people in Regina are doing to help tackle racism.

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REGINA – Winnipeg is in the spotlight this week because of a new Maclean’s article that’s claiming racism is at its worst in our fellow prairie city. However, the article also paints a bleak picture of racism in Saskatchewan, which came in at a close second.

The story in Maclean’s Thursday said “in poll after poll, Manitoba and Saskatchewan report the highest levels of racism in the country, often by a wide margin.”

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, visibly shaken by the story on Thursday, didn’t dispute the title of “Canada’s most racist city”

“We have a lot of work to do as a community,” said Bowman.

Regina’s mayor also admits we have work to do, but he doesn’t perceive the city to be particularly racist.

“There always are challenges, we’re all human and things happen but we have a great community and a caring city and province,” said Mayor Michael Fougere.

The North Central Family Centre works closely with aboriginal youth. A few of the moms who frequent the centre spoke to Global News about the impact that racism has had on their families.

“I’ve sat back and watched the way my husband’s been treated sometimes and I just kind of shake my head thinking, ‘you know if he was white it wouldn’t be like that’,” said Joan Sparvier, speaking about her husband who is Aboriginal.

“I do notice it. It hurts. The kids are smart. They see it.”

“She called me names, right to my face. ‘I didn’t belong here’ she said,” said Gale Stonechild, of an incident where she experienced racism.

“So I just walked away from her, held my head up high and just walked away.”

For the provincial government, it’s a matter of promoting understanding at a young age, including mandatory treaty education.

“In classrooms across the province we talk about how we’re all treaty people so that’s getting the context of Saskatchewan’s history,” said Greg Miller, acting deputy education minister.

While the Maclean’s story focuses on Winnipeg, the numbers seem to show Manitoba and Saskatchewan nearly neck-and-neck. According to the Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration, only six per cent of people in the two provinces consider aboriginal people “very trustworthy” and one in three people believe many racial stereotypes are accurate.

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