Saskatchewan·Point of View

'I was pulled over 3 times': Stories of racial discrimination in Saskatchewan

CBC's Brad Bellegarde shares his story of being racially discriminated against. CBC Radio's Morning Edition will be sharing more stories of discrimination from Saskatchewan residents throughout the week.

CBC's Brad Bellegarde is a member of Little Black Bear First Nation and has experienced racism first-hand

This week, CBC Radio's Morning Edition is sharing stories of discrimination from Saskatchewan residents. Tomorrow we'll hear how one woman feels uncomfortable shopping for clothing for her grandchildren. (Belle Puri/CBC )

As a First Nations person who grew up in Regina, Sask., I certainly have my fair share of discriminating stories. I got my driver's licence around the same time there were a high number of vehicle thefts happening in the city.

I will never forget my first week of driving, in which I was pulled over not once, not twice, but three times.

My vehicle was registered, insured and I was driving legally. It wasn't until the third time that week that I felt that it was racial discrimination.

My question is, have things changed since then?

A metaphor for race relations

In a story published on April 3, CBC's Jason Warick wrote that the Gerald Stanley case had become a metaphor for race relations in the province.

Stanley is accused of second-degree murder in the August 9, 2016, shooting of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old First Nations man from Red Pheasant First Nation. He has pleaded not guilty and the case will be sent to trial.

Colten Boushie was killed on a farm near Biggar, Sask. in August, 2016. (Facebook)

Since the shooting happened, there have been a lot of openly racist comments online from both First Nations and non-First Nations people. 

However, some types of discrimination are more subtle than others. Sharing these stories is important when we think about what reconciliation really means.

'How can you get this job?'

For many of us, our daily routines are somewhat repetitive and we have an idea of how our day will be. Up in the morning, head to work, have lunch, back to work, return home. It's during those daily interactions that subtle discrimination may occur. Sometimes those instances just aren't noticed.

Regina resident Lori-Ann Daniels, who is a member of Cote First Nation, was working at a financial institution when she experienced racial discrimination.

Daniels said a client who entered the bank where she worked asked her if she was an "Indian." 

"I said 'Yes I am' and then she asked me, 'Well how can you get this job, don't you have to be bonded?'" she said. "My supervisor was actually the one who said, 'You realize what that woman just did to you?'"

Sharing stories

Daniels said it wasn't until years later that she was able to recognize the customer had assumed she had a criminal record because she was First Nations.

Situations like Daniels' are often taken for granted or made out to be nothing more than misunderstandings, rather than racism. These are the stories that must be told.

*Brad Bellegarde is a reporter at CBC Saskatchewan. This week, CBC Radio's Morning Edition is sharing stories of discrimination from Saskatchewan residents. Tomorrow we'll hear how one woman feels uncomfortable shopping for clothing for her grandchildren.

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