Indigenous Winnipeggers allege widespread racism by taxi drivers

WINNIPEG -- Some indigenous people say Winnipeg's taxi industry is rife with racism and are calling for a boycott until their concerns are addressed.

See Full Article

Jackie Traverse said she and other indigenous women are treated "like garbage" -- subject to discrimination, sexual harassment and even assault. Most cab drivers demand payment up front from aboriginal passengers, if they stop to pick them up at all, she said.

Traverse has started a volunteer ride-sharing page for indigenous women and is calling for people to boycott the taxis.

"I'm hoping to hit them in the wallet," said Traverse, a 46-year-old artist. "We make up a good portion of their income and you don't treat customers like garbage."

Winnipeg has spent the last year trying to address race relations after Maclean's magazine dubbed it the most racist city in Canada.

Despite a recent race summit, problems persist. A decorated indigenous war veteran said he was recently kicked out of a downtown mall by a security guard. A grand chief complained last month she was profiled and followed by security in a store before she approached the manager.

Traverse said she has been forced out of a moving cab by a driver and was assaulted years ago but didn't to press charges. She has resorted to waving money while trying to hail a cab just to get one to stop. She said she is almost always asked to pay up front.

"They shouldn't paint everybody with the same brush."

Grand Chief Terrance Nelson with the Southern Chiefs Organization said his office has compiled dozens of stories from women who have been harassed, discriminated against and seriously assaulted. The issue is not being taken seriously by police or by the taxi industry, he said.

The organization is looking at starting its own taxi company with a fleet of 10 cabs within six months, he said.

"There is growing frustration. These are our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our granddaughters. It's very, very personal."

Taxicab board chairman David Sanders said the board has received a few formal complaints and acts quickly to investigate. People often wait too long to lodge a complaint or don't show up to a formal hearing, which makes it harder to address, he said.

"Everyone should feel safe taking a cab in Winnipeg," Sanders said. "The extent to which they don't means we have more work to do."

The board has reached out to indigenous organizations and will look at providing more cultural training to drivers -- including indigenous history and conflict resolution, he said.

A consultation on the state of the industry is to get underway after the April 19 provincial election, he added.

Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson, who represents northern First Nations, said that's just a start. More indigenous people should be hired by the industry and there should be a greater emphasis on educating all newcomers about First Nations, she suggested.

North Wilson said the inability of young women to count on a safe ride home is putting them at risk at a time when the number of missing and murdered indigenous women hovers around 1,200.

"It puts people who already at vulnerable stages in their lives to be more exposed to the element of racism on our streets."

North Wilson does see the tolerance for racism running out.

"Marginalized people (are) standing up for themselves and saying enough is enough. We demand respect and deserve respect."


Latest Canada & World News

  • U.K. banker pleads not guilty to murder in Hong Kong trial

    World News CTV News
    HONG KONG -- A British banker accused of the grisly 2014 killings of two Indonesian women pleaded not guilty when he went on trial Monday in Hong Kong, in a case expected to highlight the Asian financial hub's inequality and privileged lifestyle of its wealthy expat elite. Source
  • Toronto kindergartners build ramps to improve wheelchair accessibility

    Canada News CTV News
    A group of five and six-year-old students armed with paint brushes and a wagon are hoping to teach Canada’s largest city a lesson about improving wheelchair accessibility, one wooden ramp at a time. Kindergarten and Grade 1 students from the Mabin School in downtown Toronto were inspired by a wheelchair-bound classmate who needs to be lifted up and down a set of stairs to get around the building -- an arrangement that didn’t fit their definition of fairness. Source
  • 'Napalm girl' Kim Phuc was 'saddened' when Facebook banned iconic photo

    World News CTV News
    The woman who became known around the world as “napalm girl” after appearing in one of the most iconic photos of the Vietnam War, is speaking out after Facebook temporarily banned the image earlier this year. Source
  • Canada in a 'very good fiscal situation' to run deficits, says Poloz

    Canada News CBC News
    Canada is in a very good fiscal situation and should not be worried about running up deficits at this point, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said in a television interview aired on Sunday. The comments support Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his year-old Liberal government, which is set to run a deficit of $29.4 billion in the current fiscal year as it pours money into infrastructure and a tax credit for families. Source
  • Public servants' disability claims stuck in Phoenix pay-system backlog

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The federal government’s insurer has set aside more than $45 million to cover sick and injured public servants whose disability claims are trapped in the Miramichi pay centre backlog because of the Phoenix debacle. Sun Life Financial advised Treasury Board and the health plan’s management board that the “abnormal delays” caused by the Phoenix backlog prompted the insurance company to set aside the additional reserves for claims it knows public servants have filed but can’t be processed until…
  • Sgt. Hrnchiar charged with discreditable conduct after comments posted online following death of Inuit artist

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Postmedia News First posted: Sunday, October 23, 2016 11:41 AM EDT | Updated: Sunday, October 23, 2016 01:55 PM EDT Source
  • Syrian refugee turned Calgary entrepreneur receives award for helping with Fort McMurray relief

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    She is setting the bar for Syrian refugees in Calgary through hard work and helping Albertans along the way. Rita Khanchet Kallas came to Canada in 2015 with her husband and son as part of the first groups of Syrian refugees to arrive in Calgary. Source
  • Young man dead, parents critically injured, and family devastated after allegedly booze-fueled crash

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    While a mother and father barely cling to life in hospital after their vehicle was struck by an allegedly drunk driver, it's entirely possible they don't yet know their son died in the crash. Meanwhile, a seasoned Calgary traffic officer is letting his outrage show that a person's alleged choice to get behind the wheel while impaired has not only cut short the life of a young man just 19 years old and left two people critical, but has "destroyed an entire family. Source
  • Venezuela Congress declares President Maduro has staged coup

    World News CTV News
    CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela's Congress on Sunday declared that the government had staged a coup by blocking a drive to recall President Nicolas Maduro in a raucous legislative session that was interrupted when his supporters stormed the chamber. Source
  • Toronto woman wrongly billed for Uber ride in Poland says she feels 'violated'

    Canada News CBC News
    A Toronto woman says she feels she was taken for a ride after being billed for an Uber trip ordered on her account that she didn't take — 7,000 kilometres away in Krakow, Poland. Laura Hesp was at home in her apartment in Toronto on Monday when she says she received a text saying an Uber driver would be there in five minutes to pick her up. Source