WINNIPEG – Guest Column –In recent months, the City of Winnipeg has been attempting to take a leadership role in addressing matters pertaining to the racism that exists in Winnipeg, the province of Manitoba and beyond. This is a monumental task and would require careful considerations be made about who should be ‘included’ in a National Summit on ‘Racial Inclusion’. The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC), Manitoba’s largest Indigenous political advocacy & rights protection organization, was excluded from the invites to the Summit.
Although AMC has taken a concerted and focused approach on advocacy and rights protection over the past 4 years, throughout our 28 years of political leadership in Manitoba, current and former leadership of AMC have created several key connecting points for Manitoba’s Indigenous peoples to access services and support throughout our ancestral lands. Through our partnerships and businesses created over the past several years, the AMC sees thousands of people from Indigenous families utilizing our services through the Eagle Urban Transition Centre, accessing employment & training programs through our partner organizations, advocacy support for parents and families and a multitude of other supports and services for Indigenous peoples. One of the greatest barriers that many Indigenous peoples face in accessing services, programs and supports is racism, and we are very well aware of the many instances of both explicit racism and the more subversive institutional racism that exists throughout society as we deal with it everyday through AMC’s network of businesses and services. On this basis, it is baffling to consider why we would be ‘excluded’ from a national discussion on ‘racial inclusion’.
Following the release of the Maclean’s magazine article several months ago, myself and others from the community were called to support a short notice press conference and stand with the mayor. Despite having very little background about the intent of the mayor’s press conference, I trusted the call in the spirit of building relations and stood with him and community leaders in the call for change. It seems quite the paradox that the AMC would be one of the ones on the short list to call in support of the Mayor’s office to challenge racism, and then be excluded when the actual work of ‘Racial inclusion’ begins.
Grand Chief Derek Nepinak
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs