Monday was a provincial holiday in a lot of provinces across Canada. In Manitoba, it's called Louis Riel Day, a day set aside in honour of the great Métis leader.

It was also the day Winnipeggers gathered at a historical place to talk about racism.

Race Relations and the Path Forward took place at The Forks — a meeting place for our nations for hundreds of years. The dinner and discussion was in reaction to a Maclean's magazine article that asserts the Manitoba capital is the most racist city in Canada.

You might recall I was on the cover of that particular issue. Since I was talking about the dark places in our community, I felt responsible for also shedding some light on the issue.

So, I invited people from different backgrounds and experiences to dinner and a discussion about race relations and how to build a better Winnipeg. I wasn't sure if anyone would come, but I wanted our community to keep talking about this critical issue. 

Our community responded. Eighty people showed up to talk race relations over two hours in a no-holds-barred face-to-face.

Now that we have all had a few days to reflect, I invited two of the attendees to talk on Unreserved about the experience.

  • Rorie McLeod Arnould is the president of the University of Winnipeg Students' Association. He is of Scottish descent.
  • Cecil Sveinson is a cultural understanding educator, who is Ojibway and Cree.

We'll find out why they walked into the room wanting to share, ready to listen, and ultimately change race relations for the better in Winnipeg, and what the turning point was for both of them.

Also on Unreserved: 

CBC’s Christopher Read took part in a "Blanket Exercise." It’s often organized by church groups and it is helping its participants get a better understanding of the reality of colonialism and how poorly indigenous people have been treated throughout Canadian history. And early in the evening, he met an aboriginal woman who was giving the Blanket Exercise a second chance.

It's not uncommon to be heckled or taunted at a hockey game. But when it comes to racism and discrimination, it can be hard for those affected to speak out. Aaron Desjarlais's son plays for the Regina Avalanches. His 16-year-old has experienced many racial slurs as a hockey player. Desjarlais speaks out over his son's treatment on the ice.

St. Michael's Indian Residential School was razed to the ground earlier this week. The school was run by the Anglican Church from 1929 until it closed in 1975. Hundreds of residential school survivors attended its demolition. Carolina de Ryk, the Prince Rupert host of CBC's Daybreak North, sat down with one survivor of the school from Masset on Haida Gwaii.

Sage Daniels, a former medical student turned Winnipeg-based comedian, sits down with me for a conversation on how he uses laughter as a means to connect not only with his audience, but with his culture and himself.

Plus, music by: City Natives, Christa Couture, Evan Reeve and Shy-Anne Hovorka.


Tune into CBC Radio One after the 5 p.m. news in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Nunavut, and after the 4 p.m. news in Yukon and the N.W.T. for these stories and more on Unreserved. 

You can also listen on demand.​