'It has to stop': Split Lake teen on racism in Winnipeg

A year after MacLean's magazine branded Winnipeg as Canada's most racist city, a Split Lake teen says racism is still real and happens to him every day.
"Stop being racist. Why be racist?" Junior Wavey, 15, says he experiences racism in Winnipeg and wants it to end.

Junior Wavey, 15, just wants it to stop.

"Why be racist? Why, seriously?"

The Split Lake, Man., teen has no criminal record and has been "good [his] whole life," but he's still treated with suspicion, he said — especially in Winnipeg.

"When they see us they'll just call us down! They'll tell us to get a job … other stuff like that," he said, taking a break from playing hockey at The Forks to talk to a reporter. "It has to stop."

It's been a year since Maclean's magazine branded Winnipeg as the place where racism in Canada is at its worst, but people like Wavey say the problem hasn't gone away.

13 Fires: Winnipeg is trying to change that. The group, which is open to the public, discusses racism at monthly meetings. It's released a report on racism in the city today, to complement an event with Mayor Brian Bowman that looked at what's changed in the city since the article was published.

"Our report is providing more of a grassroots perspective, more of an inner-city perspective, more of a perspective that is directly tied to those racialized in this city," said Andrew Vineberg, an organizer with the group.

Their next meeting is Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at the Broadway Disciples United Church.

"A lot of things have to change. These problems are deeply rooted. They're systemic. They're very interconnected," Vineberg said those who worked on the report found.


Amy Woolf, who's not indigenous and has also lived in Alberta and B.C., noted the city of Winnipeg is a place that actually speaks the word racism, which she called a good thing.

"There's racism, but there's becoming a lot more counter-racism," said Woolf.

The abundance of programs and individuals working to reduce the effects of racism, and better the lives of others, is encouraging, she said, citing food banks and clothing drives.

"It's becoming an issue that people want to solve, rather than just allowing it to happen," she said.

Wavey said everyone from non-aboriginal peers to police officers still seem to need to hear that. His most recent example came just hours earlier, on his way to The Forks from North End Winnipeg.

Cops always pull me over.- Junior Wavey , 15

"Cops always pull me over," Wavey said, explaining police ask him what he's up to when he's out walking. Usually he's just on his way to the rink, he said.

"Like the bus stop — I was waiting there catching the 38 … they're just looking at me for some reason," he said. "I didn't want to look back at them because they might come back."

He just wants people to stop treating him differently because he's indigenous.

"Even though someone is doing something to be racist to me, I wanna do something back but I can't," he said.

"It does hurt. I don't really like it. I want it to stop. I just want it to stop."