Don Atchison, mayor of Saskatoon, says city 'eons ahead of Winnipeg'

Saskatoon Mayor Don Atchison says the city has made tremendous strides battling racism but says it can still be a painful reality at the street level.

Comments come after Maclean's Magazine article naming Winnipeg as most racist city in country

Saskatoon Mayor Don Atchison talked racism at Studio YXE this morning. (CBC)

The good news, says Saskatoon Mayor Don Atchison, is that the city is not as racist as Winnipeg.

"I think we're eons ahead of where they are in Winnipeg," he said in an interview with Saskatoon Morning host, Leisha Grebinski.

"We're trying to address the situation and we admit that we're not perfect, and that we want to make a difference here."

Maclean's claimed that Manitoba and Saskatchewan have the highest levels of racism in the country. It labelled Winnipeg the country's most racist city.

Atchison pointed to the strong local economy and evolving institutional attitudes as two reasons why the city is having success.

He said the city has strong ties with the Saskatoon Tribal Council and local First Nations. He also said that Saskatoon has worked hard to fairly advance treaty land entitlement claims, and actively participated in the Truth and Reconciliation hearings.

"The more successful we become in our community, the more accepting we will be of everyone," he said.

Profiling still a reality

But not everyone is so positive.

'You can tell that they don't see who I am.-- Cece  Baptiste 

Cece Baptiste is a local Cree woman who described her experiences of racism.

It happens when she goes into some stores, she said.

"You can tell that they don't see who I am, and they see this brown person who is walking in and right away they assume I'm poor or in a bad way," she said.

"It's hard to talk about."

Atchison does not argue with Baptiste's personal experience.

"It's unfortunate that some people wish to judge a book by its cover," he said.

"It's continually working on the different mindsets, and educating people more and more."



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