On January 22nd, 2015, Maclean's Magazine released the article Welcome to Winnipeg: Where Canada’s racism problem is at its worst, which stunned not just Winnipeg, but the nation. However, January 22nd is also the day that Winnipeg made a choice to stand in unity and break the silence of our nation. Winnipeg opened up the discussion, through humility and honour, to change not just itself, but to start to change how we, as Canadians, treat one another.
One week later, the City of Winnipeg opened up the dialogue even further, launching 1Winnipeg.ca. The ideas to tackle racism poured in from all cultures: Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal. Among the hundreds of entries the 1Winnipeg website received, there were two strong recurring themes to launch as the next steps in the fight against racism and the journey toward unity and behaving as ONE Winnipeg.
The first common theme was that we must find a way to educate each other, Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal, to increase our understanding of the rich Aboriginal culture, people and heritage that are the roots of our City and Nation, by identifying the issues and outlining a path to success for all citizens. With this recommendation, Mayor Bowman created the Indigenous Advisory Circle, which will be led by musician, broadcaster, University Administrator and Aboriginal Leader, Wab Kinew. In addition to Mayor Bowman and Wab Kinew, its membership comprises:
- Justice Murray Sinclair, Commissioner, Truth and Reconciliation Commission
- Jamie Wilson, Commissioner, Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba
- Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, and associate professor, University of Alberta.
- Coun. Cindy Gilroy, Chairwoman, Citizens Equity Committee
- Harry Bone, elder
- Mae Louise Campbell, Elder
- Esther Ducharme, Elder
- Damon Johnston, President, Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg
- Chief Robert Louie, Chief, Westbank First Nation
- Dr. Marcia Anderson-Decoteau
- Sean McCormick, CEO and Founder, Manitobah Mukluks
- Jessica Dumas, Owner and Founder of Prime Image Life Coaching
- EJ Fontaine, President/CEO and Founding Partner of Anishinabek Consultants Inc.
- Kimberley Puhach, Consultant, Leaders and Co.
- Dee Thomas-Hart, University Student, Youth Representative, Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce
- Manley A. Begay Jr., Co-Director of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
- Alan Greyeyes, Aboriginal Music development Manager for Manitoba Music, Chairman, Aboriginal Music Manitoba
- Kerri Tattuinee, University Student
The second over-arching theme was to bring together the leaders, organizations and community members from throughout Winnipeg and across Canada into one giant ‘Meeting of the Minds’ and build a think tank of compassion and inspiration to tackle racism in all of its forms. What more appropriate place to host this coming together of the greatest and most compassionate minds in our Nation, than the Canadian Museum for Human Rights!
This Summit is an important step to exposing the ignorance and enlightening Canadians with ideas for tolerance and compassion. It is the hope that ONE: Mayor’s National Summit on Racial Inclusion, will become the heart of what will lead to the most important and most necessary change in Canada today.