City of Yellowknife will move fast to remove symbols of hate
Racist graffiti forces Yellowknife man to explain swastikas to children following everyday walk
When Daron Letts was walking his children to preschool earlier this week, he wasn't prepared for what his three-year-old son was about to see.
"Unfortunately they saw two swastikas on the sidewalk," he said.
"Of course anything from a caterpillar to a hate symbol attracts the attention of a child, and my son asked me why that was there."
Letts contacted the City, which is now working to have the symbols removed.
They had been there for some time, but with the recent events in Charlottesville, Va., bringing to light the issue of race and intolerance in the United States, Letts thought it was time to take action.
"Of course it's on all of our minds," he said. "Once it entered the consciousness of my young child there was no choice."
Sheila Bassi-Kellett, the City's senior administrative officer, said the city doesn't turn a blind eye to things like this.
"It's really important that we take a stand on this because there is this level of hatred in the world which, frankly, in Yellowknife does not reflect who we are as a community," she said.
This isn't the first time the city has worked to remove the offensive symbol.
In April, they contacted property owners to cover a swastika that had been spray painted on Fraser Tower following a Twitter exchange:
Dear <a href="https://twitter.com/OurYellowknife">@OurYellowknife</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/MarkHeyck">@MarkHeyck</a> please remove this horror from Fraser tower. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Yellowknife?src=hash">#Yellowknife</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/shame?src=hash">#shame</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WTF?src=hash">#WTF</a> <a href="https://t.co/s7uNiIKz2O">pic.twitter.com/s7uNiIKz2O</a>—@melindatrochu
thank you! <a href="https://t.co/62feiPwDmw">pic.twitter.com/62feiPwDmw</a>—@melindatrochu
Letts has five children, all between the ages of one and 10. He says the topic of racism is a weekly conversation at the dinner table with his older kids.
"It's imperative on adults to teach children how to become adults who don't participate in this," he said. "That involves education, not only about the base racism that we saw in Virginia that is terrible, but also the legacy that they're inheriting."
Yellowknife diversity a beautiful thing
Jamal Jackson-Grau has lived in Yellowknife for years. He grew up in Wisconsin, two hours from Janesville where he says there was a large population of white supremacists and members of the Ku Klux Klan.
He says he wasn't shocked to hear about the graffiti, but that it's disheartening to see. However, he believes it doesn't reflect the diversity of Yellowknifers.
"Our community is very inclusive and the way we are, we live in a bubble almost … compared to the rest of the country, or even the rest of the world," he said. Jackson-Grau added that he hasn't seen the kind of racism directed towards African-Americans in the N.W.T. that he's experienced in the United States.
"I don't think it's a problem we have here at all, and that's the beauty of this place and that's why I like living here, and why I've chosen to stay here and raise my family here."
The City hopes to have the swastikas removed as soon as possible.
With files from Alyssa Mosher and Garrett Hinchey