By Lethbridge Herald on October 17, 2017.
I have a lot of respect for former mayor Bob Tarleck. Indeed, some of his initiatives brought about some positive relationship building between First Nations and the City of Lethbridge.
However, I would also like to note there is no irony in calling out the city on the toxic and systemic racism that continues to harm everyone.
I would like Mr. Tarleck to experience what it is like to have racist epithets being yelled at him from cars driving by as he simply walks home. I am intimate with that feeling.
I would like Mr. Tarleck to experience having to find housing, asking a “white” friend to call for a viewing, so the people showing the property don’t hear your accent.
I would like Mr. Tarleck to experience what it’s like to have to change his last name from a native one to a non-native one on his resume, just to get the call back, and eventually have a job interview that goes nowhere, and the job search only being fruitful when a non-bigot interviewer decides to hire him.
My niece is nine years old. In her class a young boy told the other students he has a “special name for natives” but they can’t tell their parents, the teacher or her. So whenever she looks his way, he whispers into the ears of other students, they look at her and laugh.
So in print on paper it’s fine to self-congratulate on a job well done, and say, “look, we’ve made progress! Your problem is ironic.”
An interpretation of Mr. Tarleck’s letter can be summarized as: “We have made token gestures that have absolved the city on an official level of any hint of racism, so why aren’t you happy? Aren’t these token gestures enough for you?”
An interpretation of this letter can be read as follows: “I understand your token gestures and applaud them. Here’s what racism actually feels like from a person who experiences it daily.”
Yes, the First Nations community still faces incredible amounts of racism in daily life from the citizens of this city.
I can’t believe I have to respond publicly. The hateful people here know exactly what they do and say, and the non-hateful people who have remained silent have tolerated it for far too long.
Martin Heavy Head