Let us help the city help us fight racism

Let us help the city help us fight racism Open letter to Mayor Buckway and city councillors: As you know, I was one of the individuals who appeared before city council in support of the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discriminati

BodyLet us help the city help us fight racism

Open letter to Mayor Buckway and city councillors:

As you know, I was one of the individuals who appeared before city council in support of the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination (CCMARD). There were many questions that arose during the March 5 meeting, in which I did not have the opportunity to respond and I would like to do so now.

You are no doubt aware that the decisions of the City of Whitehorse influence a much broader area than that enclosed by city limits. In terms of community, your influence is arguably felt Yukon-wide. Whitehorse, the capital city, has the largest population area, and has a major influence on rural communities and can serve as a model across Northern Canada.

I would have to add that your decisions, especially as regards this initiative, have international implications. You only have to look at how we may be perceived by foreign tourists or students. We are more than just a shopping centre and a place to view northern lights.

Your work in making the city, as an employer, fair and welcoming has been commendable and probably most citizens acknowledge that. You have employment policies that support a respectful workplace.

There was a question raised about the need for signing on to CCMARD when there are human rights and other laws to protect citizens. Such laws are in place to try to prevent and deal with discrimination when it occurs, but unfortunately we still see evidence of racism and discrimination in our community. People need a supportive environment to report incidents as they may be reluctant or afraid to come forward.

What the CCMARD initiative and its supporters are asking for is a statement that will clearly show off our values to the broader community and visitors alike. A simple statement like this costs nothing. Assessing and possibly committing to further measures are matters for later debate by city council. You can decide at any time what you feel has already been done, what could be done next, and yes, what is affordable.

Councillors have asked for specific actions that you might want to take if you signed on. A loud and very public condemnation by city council of the vandalism at the T.C. Richards Building and the defacing of Kirn Dhillon’s election sign would fit in with the initiative’s goals and be a simple no-cost action reflective of your commitment to CCMARD.

I’m not suggesting that you do it for past incidents because individually you probably have. You might take these examples as an opportunity to develop with citizens and authorities appropriate actions in dealing with racist graffiti or other discriminatory events in the community.

Please don’t be afraid that the city will be alone either in leadership or labour. Look at the list of 24 organizations and two First Nation governments that have demonstrated their willingness to participate, lead and offer their knowledge and connections to those impacted by racism and discrimination. I am personally willing to volunteer my time and knowledge.

I’m sure that you must have been in touch with some of the 52 communities that have signed on to the initiative. And I’m sure that they’ve given you feedback about what’s involved. May I also respectfully suggest that you also ask them why they signed on. I think the answers you find may be more important than the operational details.

I urge you to sign on to CCMARD and hope that we can truly celebrate on March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination!

Lillian Nakamura Maguire



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

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

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

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read