All City of Winnipeg staff to take anti-racism training after allegations of discrimination
'We all have something we can learn through anti-oppression training,' Mayor Brian Bowman says
All City of Winnipeg employees, including elected officials and the mayor himself, will take part in anti-racism, anti-oppression and cultural competency training in the coming weeks.
The training follows a number of allegations of racism in the last year alone, interim chief administrative officer Mike Ruta said in a press conference on Wednesday, although he didn't provide specific numbers or refer to specific incidents.
There have been previous complaints of racism and sexism at some city fire halls, and accusations of racial profiling and random checkstops by Winnipeg police.
"We remain committed to moving forward and improving the workplace for our employees and to foster community trust with the people we serve," Ruta said at a news conference Wednesday.
"We know this will require a tremendous amount of focus and patience, but we know we cannot stand still on this issue."
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said the training is part of making municipal government a more welcoming place to work, and that it's mandatory for everyone, including elected officials.
"We all have something we can learn through anti-oppression training," he said.
City employees and elected officials have taken part in mandatory reconciliation training in the past. Bowman says there's council has a human rights committee as well.
Even so, the mayor said systemic racism is ingrained in all levels of government, including at Winnipeg city hall.
"As elected officials, I think it's incredibly important to acknowledge that systemic racism exists at all levels of government, in every department in those governments," he said.
"It's a journey.... It will take time to build this culture in our organization."
The city doesn't yet have a plan for how to address ongoing allegations of racism, Ruta said.
"We're taking instruction from our consultants and developing a program for all our employees."
Ruta said anyone found to be "intentionally targeting" someone based on characteristics like race, gender identity and sexual orientation will be punished.