Saskatoon·Special Report

Saskatoon Meewasin byelection: Candidates weigh in on racism in Sask.

Ahead of the Saskatoon Meewasin byelection, CBC Saskatoon checked in with all 5 candidates to get their thoughts on the biggest, political issues Sask. faces.

Wondering who to vote for? Here's what Saskatoon Meewasin candidates think about Saskatchewan's biggest issues

Running in the Saskatoon Meewasin byelection are (from left to right): Darrin Lamoureux, Ryan Meili, Shawn Setyo, Brent Penner and David Prokopchuk.

Wondering who to vote for in the upcoming Saskatoon Meewasin byelection?  

To help you decide, CBC Saskatoon will publish responses from the five candidates on a different issue every day this week.

From carbon pricing to legalizing marijuana, we'll find out where the candidates stand on the biggest issues facing Saskatchewan people.

Today, the candidates respond to a question about racism in Saskatchewan. 

Racism

Colten Boushie was shot and killed on Aug. 9. (Facebook)

Question 1:  The shooting of Colten Boushie has contributed to a raw discussion about race relations in Saskatchewan. What work would you do to change the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Saskatchewan people?

Candidate responses

Darrin Lamoureux, Saskatchewan Liberal Party: 

Darrin Lamoureux is running for the Saskatchewan Liberal Party in the Saskatoon Meewasin byelection. (Darrin Lamoureux/Facebook)

I will continue to work as a party to what we have been working on for the last three years to open the lines of communication between our Indigenous governments, federal governments and the provincial party to see what we [can] collectively do about eradicating stereotypes and misinformation that, if left unchecked, can lead to hate propaganda and unfortunately racism.

Ryan Meili, New Democratic Party: 

Ryan Meili, the Saskatoon Meewasin MLA, was chosen as the new leader for the Saskatchewan NDP on Saturday. (Ryan Meili/Facebook)

Over a decade of working alongside Indigenous peoples in both health care and organizing, I've learned, and continue to learn, a great deal about respectful engagement and building positive partnerships. The complex and tragic history of this province with regards to the treatment of First Nations and Métis peoples makes the road to reconciliation a challenging one.

One of the reasons it is so challenging is that discrimination against Indigenous people in this province is not a thing of the past. For example, I frequently have patients recount to me their experiences of mistreatment while seeking health care services.

We need to see a serious discussion in Saskatchewan about our efforts toward reconciliation. The Legislature unanimously supported the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but there has been little evidence of those recommendations being a priority for this government, including a failure to apologize, as promised, for the province's role in the Sixties Scoop.  

As MLA for Saskatoon Meewasin I would work to develop relationships with First Nations and Métis communities that honour the spirit of the treaties that are the foundation of and blueprint for our co-existence in Saskatchewan.

Brent Penner, Saskatchewan Party:

Brent Penner is running for the Saskatchewan Party in the Saskatoon Meewasin byelection. (Brent Penner/Facebook)

The Saskatchewan Party government has made it a priority to improve the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Saskatchewan. In 2008, the government made treaty education a mandatory part of the curriculum in all Saskatchewan schools. I believe that this has already begun to foster a better understanding of the integral relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in our province.

The Saskatchewan Party government has also worked to improve the education and employment outcomes for Indigenous people in Saskatchewan. Investments have already been made to implement recommendations made by the Joint Task Force on Improving Education and Employment Outcomes for First Nations and Métis people.

In the most recent legislative session, the Assembly unanimously passed a motion supporting the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report. The Saskatchewan Party government has already begun to address many of the recommendations in the report that pertain to provincial jurisdiction. If I am fortunate enough to earn the privilege of serving as the MLA for Saskatoon Meewasin, I would be supportive of these continued efforts in implementing the TRC's recommendations and would look to build on the good work that is already underway across government.

Shawn Setyo, Saskatchewan Green Party:

Shawn Setyo is running for the Saskatchewan Green Party in the Saskatoon Meewasion byelection. (Shawn Setyo/Facebook)

We have found out, as a party, the best way for people to understand and appreciate each other is through collaborative work. Giving people the opportunity to meet and understand each other on a human level would help relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Saskatchewan people.

This could be done by initiating programs where Saskatchewan residents partake in cultural events together as a community. So increased invitations and cross-cultural attendance to events like powwows, drum circles and sweat ceremonies.

We must also teach our young the history of First Nations people. Teach them about their culture, traditions and ways of life. We must also never forget to teach about the atrocities [of the] residential school and how they stripped a generation of First Nations people away from their homes.

To understand where [and] what we want to accomplish as a province we must first understand our shared history, which includes the history of all the citizens of Saskatchewan.

David Prokopchuk, Progressive Conservative Party:

David Prokopchuk is running for the Progressive Conservative Party in the Saskatoon Meewasin byelection. (David Prokopchuk/Facebook)

Prior to even attempting to change the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples we must first identify what issues plague the relationship.

Through education we can eliminate misconceptions, historical prejudices and begin to address these social and economic issues. This begins from the bottom up. The Government of Saskatchewan must work and help empower Indigenous individuals so they can play their chosen role in our society.

This is the first of a five-part series by CBC Saskatoon ahead of the Saskatoon Meewasin byelection on March 2. Each day CBC Saskatoon will publish one answer from each of the five candidates to a question regarding a pressing Saskatchewan issue.

now