Manitoba

'People of Winnipeg' Facebook page outlet for racism, says activist

A Facebook page that makes fun of Winnipeggers with photos has outraged several people, including a local activist who works with the homeless, but the page's administrator is adamant about keeping it running.

Page littered with racial slurs, makes fun of people who are disabled or different

A Facebook page that makes fun of Winnipeggers with photos has outraged several people, including a local activist who works with the homeless, but the page's administrator is adamant about keeping it running. 2:00

A Facebook page that makes fun of Winnipeggers with photos has outraged several people, including a local activist that works with the homeless, but the page's administrator is adamant about keeping it running.

The "People of Winnipeg" page has more than 17,000 members and contains posts that range from mocking people with disabilities to making racial slurs about multiple ethnic groups.

Many of the images posted on the page show people passed out on the street and worse.

"People [are] making fun of the homeless and the drunk people and just disgusting pictures that are developing," Althea Guiboche, who hands out food to the city's homeless every week, told CBC News on Monday.

"I can't stand for that. I can't even believe Winnipeg people are taking part in that."

The page's administrator, Ricky Paskie, said he and the other people behind "People of Winnipeg" do their best to take down anything that could be deemed offensive, but with more than 200 posts a day that can be difficult.

"If we do find that it's racist or indecent for people, it will be deleted," Paskie said. "That's not our goal … to make fun of anyone [who is] mentally ill, homeless."

But Paskie noted that there are also plenty of posts that are positive about the city.

"Our intent [is] just to show the funny things and the things you see in Winnipeg  … whether it's someone dancing at the bus stop or a guy wearing a gorilla suit," he said.

'It's not right'

Britt James said she was mocked by people on the "People of Winnipeg" page after someone uploaded a photograph of her and another woman inside a medical clinic.

"All I could think of was, 'How could you take a photo of somebody in a medical clinic?' You know, how is this even funny?" she said.

"To have people you don't know publicly make fun of you, it's not right."

James said the page's administrators initially would not remove the photo, and Facebook told her the image did not breach any of its terms.

She said she took matters into her own hands by contacting the original poster's workplace and threatening legal action.

The photo has since been removed, but James said the damage has already been done.

"The majority of things, if you actually look on there, are hurtful, they're spiteful, they're rude. It's harassing, it's bullying," she said.

Representatives from Facebook did not return calls seeking comment.

Facebook user responds

Jesse James, who has been a part of the Facebook group for more than a year, wrote a response to critics of the page saying, "This group is about posting pictures of people who are out in public doing crazy things that may seem very unrealistic but are very real.

"The group is about finding the funny moments that are right in front of us every day because we live in a crazy city. This group is not here for people to be racist."

But Britt James said she wants the Facebook page removed or completely overhauled. She plans to meet with a lawyer.

Guiboche, also known as the Bannock Lady, said she has been personally attacked on the Facebook page for speaking out against it, but she believes the page does not have to be shut down as long as it stops being a forum for racism and hurting the homeless.

"It just goes to further dehumanize them," she said.

"We don't need them publicly parading our homeless around for public comments. Why don't they just step up and help them instead?"

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