A Tale of Two Summits

Winnipeggers discuss racial inclusion inside and outside of the CMHR

Lisa Meeches talks about the importance of education in efforts to thwart racism at the Mayor’s Summit.

 The issue of racism in Winnipeg was brought to the forefront of public consciousness last winter after Maclean’s magazine published an article titled “Welcome to Winnipeg: Where Canada’s racism problem is at its worst.” The article outlined the ways that racist assumptions and jokes affect the daily quality of life of many residents, to the point that many indigenous women can’t walk down the street without fear of being harassed. 

Mayor Brian Bowman responded to the Maclean’s article saying that “we need to get real,” and that “action has to follow the talk.” Part of his response included planning and staging ONE: The Mayor’s National Summit on Racial Inclusion, held at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on Sept. 17 and 18. 

While a community forum to address the problems of systemic racism is a worthy endeavour, limited seating and a $50 entrance fee meant that many voices went unheard. 

In response, community organizers held an event called Winnipeg’s Local Inclusion Summit on Sept. 17 at the Oodeena Celebration circle at The Forks. At this summit, attendees were encouraged to get to know one another and discuss their experiences of racism in the city. It was not meant to run in competition to the Mayor’s summit, but it was an open event with activities that encouraged group conversation. 

The Uniter attended and documented both events. These images showcase the significance of different communities coming together as one. 

- Mike Sudoma

Published in Volume 70, Number 3 of The Uniter (September 24, 2015)

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