City urged to fight racism

City urged to fight racism Open letter to Mayor Buckway and city councillors: On behalf of Yukon's Human Rights Commission, I made a presentation to city council on March 5 and was surprised by the approach of council to our proposal that the city sign o

BodyCity urged to fight racism

Open letter to Mayor Buckway and city councillors:

On behalf of Yukon’s Human Rights Commission, I made a presentation to city council on March 5 and was surprised by the approach of council to our proposal that the city sign onto the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities against Racism and Discrimination (CCMARD).

1) The process at the meeting was tightly restricted. It did not allow members of the audience and presenters to respond to questions you posed to individual speakers. You saved most of your questions for the last speaker, the one who clearly indicated that he spoke on behalf of himself and identified as a “privileged” white male in this society.

You asked for his insight, opinion and advice. Other members of the audience most impacted by racism and discrimination or working for NGOs in the community had much to offer, but did not have an opportunity to respond. Except for Kirk Cameron, who asked cautious, thoughtful questions, it was the councillor of Southeast Asian heritage who stood alone in support of CCMARD.

2) The groups who have come together to support the proposal to the city do not think the city has done nothing to create an open, inclusive workplace through policies for its employees. However, we believe the city could better highlight those policies and programs and services that they offer to the public in recognition of the diverse population living in Whitehorse. Joining CCMARD provides a forum for celebrating these activities as part of your plan of action.

3) The city has a responsibility to do its part to create a safe, inclusive community free from racism and discrimination. Three overtly racist and extremely public acts were committed in our city in less than a year. How many more did not make the headlines?

Racism and discrimination burden our city and territory with enormous social and financial costs. In contrast, the leadership we are asking you to provide need not tax limited civic resources. In fact, 25 community groups with funds far more limited than those of city council want to work with you. Many of us have experience and expertise that we are willing, as volunteers, to bring to the table. Please consider the idea of a citizen’s committee to work on this initiative with you. And please remember, you are not just caring for a physical body of land. You are caring for the heart and soul of this community.

The reality is, at home and overseas, these are very dark days. Anti-Semitism is on the rise, neo-Nazi groups are finding strength in the relative anonymity of the Internet, and anti-Muslim sentiment in a post-911 era threatens the fabric of our communities at home and abroad. Violence against women continues and has cost the Yukon’s and Canada’s missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls their lives. Our federal government has yet to fulfill the promises in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apology to First Nations for the ongoing effects of the racist residential school system.

I am reminded of the words of Martin Niemöller’s poem: “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

We are counting on you as our city’s leaders to stand up for and with the citizen and community groups in our city who want to end racism and discrimination.

Fia Jampolsky, Chair

Yukon Human Rights Commission

/Body

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Benjamin Poudou, Mount MacIntyre’s ski club manager, poses for a photo in the club’s ski rental area on Nov. 16. The club has sold around 1,850 passes already this year, compared to 1067 passes on Oct. 31 last year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Early season ski pass sales up as Yukoners prepare for pandemic winter

Season passe sales at Mount McIntyre for cross-country skiing are up by around 60 per cent this year

The City of Whitehorse will be spending $655,000 to upgrade the waste heat recovery system at the Canada Games Centre. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New waste heat recovery system coming to the CGC

Council approves $655,000 project

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate education advocates and volunteers help to sort and distribute Christmas hamper grocery boxes outside Elijah Smith Elementary School on Feb. 23. (Rebecca Bradford Andrew/Submitted)
First Nation Education Directorate begins Christmas hamper program

Pick-ups for hampers are scheduled at local schools

Cyrine Candido, cashier, right, wipes down the new plexi-glass dividers at Superstore on March 28, before it was commonplace for them to wear masks. The Yukon government is relaunching the Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program as the second wave of COVID-19 begins to take place in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program extended to 32 weeks

More than 100 businesses in the territory applied for the first phase of the program

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read