“My Winnipeg” is a phrase that has been bandied about the social discourse of Winnipeg as of late (most notably as the title of Guy Maddin’s mockumentary about his home town — sadly, I haven’t seen it, but my friend, his ex-wife, gave it a nod of approval #namedropping).
But now, the discourse relates to the racial divide within this city, most notably in the eviscerating piece in Maclean’s magazine labelling us the most racist city in Canada.
Reading it, my brain kept saying “This is not MY Winnipeg”. My Winnipeg is walks through Assiniboine Park, and entertaining evenings in the Village, and always returning home to the peaceful tree-lined streets of the suburbs. This can’t be MY Winnipeg they are talking about with the indisputable history of health care centres ignoring the plight of an Aboriginal people, even leading to death from entirely treatable conditions in the ER triage. Or the tragic trend of Aboriginal women ending up being used for their bodies, which are then discarded into the rivers that define our city. Or the horrifying fact that we all chimed in with our support for the communities fighting against racial profiling following recent events in Ferguson, etc., in the States, without realizing that we have a very similar racial divide in our own city towards our Aboriginal community.
Awareness is increasing exponentially, particularly over the last 6 month. The conversations we need to have are being started. Yes, many of these issues are isolated to the North and Central areas of the city, but we need to recognize these are still parts of the city. When we hear stories of atrocities happening in our city, we have to stop looking through our rose coloured glasses and pretending that it’s removed from our community.
We have to stop thinking of “My Winnipeg” and start thinking of it as “Our Winnipeg”