Deep Cuts: A special compilation of The Current's Facing Race town hall series

Did you miss The Current's feature series on race and racism in Canada? Listen to this one-hour special of Facing Race's most memorable conversations.
Did you miss The Current's feature series on race and racism in Canada? Listen to this one-hour special of Facing Race's most memorable conversations.

Earlier this year, The Current travelled across the country — from Vancouver, to Montreal, to Halifax — to discuss the most pressing issues of race and racism in a series of town halls. 

Still captured by what they heard, the show's team has compiled the most powerful moments from all three conversations into a radio special for any who may have missed it, and all those looking to continue the dialogue. 


In Nova Scotia, Anna Maria Tremonti spoke to community members living in the southern tip of Shelburne, who say environmental racism contributed to a toxic dump being put in their backyards in the 1950s.

"The dump was afire all the time, and when it was burning the smoke was so thick it was like fog," recalled 67-year-old south Shelburne resident Louise Delisle.

"It's in our community, and it's not in the other community. The north end is where the white settlers or the white people live. This is where the black people live."

Delisle is among many who believe that pollution from the dump has contributed to high rates of cancer in south Shelburne.
Each dot on this map represents households with anecdotal reports of cancer, according to Shelburne residents. (Submitted by Louise Delisle)

"A majority of men in my father's generation have all died of cancers. And the majority of people that are dying of cancer are dying of multiple myeloma ... It is a rare cancer. For it to be in such a large cluster in such a small spot is very suspicious."

After significant community pressure, the dump closed in 2016. But health concerns persist, including how toxic runoffs may affect Shelburne's water supply.

"We don't know if [the dump] has been closed properly. We don't know what's seeping into the ground. You're looking at years and years of chemicals and garbage," says Delisle.


In Vancouver, Piya Chattopadhyay spoke to Indigenous nurses on the frontlines of healthcare about the impact racism has had on themselves and their patients.

"There's just such a huge discrepancy… I see [Indigenous people] get taken away in the police cars and I've often tried to intervene and explain that 'my patient has residential school survivor — please don't tie them up,'" said Diane Lingren, the provincial chair for the Aboriginal leadership Caucus of the B.C. Nurses Union.

"But no. I'm told by the RCMP that they are doing that for 'their own protection.'"

B.C. Nurses Union's Diane Lingren on Indigenous people and health care

5 years ago
Duration 1:28
B.C. Nurses Union's Diane Lingren on Indigenous people and health care

Beyond access to care, Lingren told Chattopadhyay that bias among medical professionals is a barrier to appropriate treatment for Canada's indigenous people as well. 

"Two [surgeons] come to mind who have openly stated — and actually give an education to the nurses in the surgical unit — about how Indigenous people have different pain receptors and do not need the same level of narcotics for surgeries," she said.

Chattopadhyay also spoke to Byron Cruz, an outreach worker with Sanctuary Health in Vancouver. Migrant workers call him when they need medical help but are worried they could lose their jobs for visiting a doctor or hospital.

Cruz says these are the kinds of pictures he gets from migrant workers and undocumented workers who are afraid of going to the hospital. (Submitted by Byron Cruz)
"We work with people with precarious immigration status," said Cruz. "It's precarious because ... temporary workers do not have the right to work with other employers. If they are abused on a farm, they cannot change to another."


At the last town hall in Montreal, The Current had a frank conversation with a former skinhead, Maxime Fiset, who co-founded the right-wing extremist group la Fédération des Québécois de souche in 2007.

"Nobody joins a far-right group because they're happy," Fiset told CBC's Duncan McCue.

Maxime Fiset with Duncan McCue. (Elise Jacob/CBC)

"It really is something that you do because you feel some unease about the world."

But after Fiset started to see the world differently after he got a job, met people from different walks of life, and had a daughter.

"If you feel it does not make sense, it doesn't mean that there's no sense," he said. "It might just mean that you're wrong."

Fiset is now a consultant for Montreal's Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence and works to de-radicalize people who shared the views he once had.

Regarding a successful intervention, Fiset says: "The best case would be for such a person to renounce 'essentialization' — seeing a group as a unified thing, and giving each member of these group the characteristics that we think belong to the group. It's the base of racism."

Listen to full special at the top of this post, or check out the full series: Facing Race: Your life. Your stories. Your identity.

This compilation was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar.