Just months after being labelled Canada's most racist city, Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman has revealed the full membership of a special committee that will advise the city on ways to "build awareness, bridges and understanding" between the aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities.
Bowman first announced the creation of the Mayor's Indigenous Advisory Circle (MIAC) back in March, during his state of the city address. At that time, Bowman also appointed Wab Kinew as the chair.
"To create unity and equality, we must build understanding. Through MIAC, much of the important work building strong bridges in our community will continue," Bowman said on Monday.
"I want to thank each member of the circle for sharing their experience and knowledge to help build a stronger Winnipeg."
Most racist city
A Jan. 22 Maclean's Magazine article labelling Winnipeg the most racist city in Canada helped prompt the formation of the circle.
"Five months since the Maclean's article, we have sort of grappled with what that means. We've sort of taken our lumps as a city, but now I think we've returned to a place where we can move forward in a good way," Kinew said.
The advisory committee will help implement suggestions that came out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and work to improve the economic lives of indigenous people in the city, Kinew said.
"The whole city would be better off if every kid reaches their full potential. If every indigenous person in this city was doing better, everyone benefits," Kinew said. "A rising tide lifts all boats."
'Ushering in a new era'
Kinew, the associate vice-president for indigenous relations at the University of Winnipeg, said he looks forward "to ushering in an era when First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures are celebrated by all Winnipeggers."
"In terms of the broader vision of making Winnipeg a place that celebrates the indigenous component to its identity, that's going to be a years-long process."
The advisory circle will start off with a training program for city staff on indigenous culture. It will also look for ways to make indigenous women and girls safer on the streets.
The MIAC meetings will be held quarterly, with the first meeting set for Sept. 17.
The full list of indigenous advisory circle members includes:
- Mayor Brian Bowman
- Wab Kinew, chair
- Coun. Cindy Gilroy
- Harry Bone, elder
- Mae Louise Campbell, elder
- Esther Ducharme, elder
- Marcia Anderson-Decoteau
- Jessica Dumas
- EJ Fontaine
- Damon Johnston
- Kimberley Puhach
- Dee Thomas-Hart
- Manley A. Begay Jr.
- Cindy Blackstock
- Alan Greyeyes
- Chief Robert Louie
- Sean McCormick
- Justice Murray Sinclair
- Kerri Tattuinee
- Jamie Wilson