Saskatchewan: A special report on race and power -

Saskatchewan: A special report on race and power

How many Indigenous people are in positions of power in Saskatchewan? We surveyed 265 of the most powerful people in the province. The results are shocking.


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Lee Prosper grew up in Saskatoon and Regina. The Willow Cree 28-year-old, of the One Arrow First Nation in central Saskatchewan, is a support worker in Regina’s troubled North Central neighbourhood, and a reconciliation facilitator. He’s training to be a teacher at the University of Regina, and just finished a term as president of the university’s Indigenous Students Association.

Growing up, none of this seemed possible. The future, for a First Nations youth, seemed limited, he says. He saw no Indigenous mayors in Saskatchewan, no Indigenous chiefs of police, no Indigenous CEOs. He never once considered those positions “attainable” for a First Nations person. “It felt like we were in a wholly different class.”

Prosper makes clear he is “not one bit racist,” but those titles seemed reserved for Saskatchewan’s white majority. That’s just the way things were, he says with a shrug. Prosper figured he was destined for fast food work or construction, if he was lucky.

Life, to him and the First Nations kids he knew, was limited to what he calls “our neighbourhoods”—racialized communities like North Central, a majority First Nations neighbourhood near Regina’s core, and Pleasant Hill, Saskatoon’s equivalent. “We were on our own.” Beyond those borders, Prosper says, racism was “a normal thing.” The mayors and MPs he saw on television and the front pages of newspapers who looked nothing like him telegraphed a clear message, he says: You don’t belong.

WHITE-SASK-1Right now, 22 per cent of Saskatchewan’s population is non-white: 16 per cent Indigenous, and 6.3 per cent visible minority—figures that are expected to jump when new census figures are released early next year. And yet Saskatchewan’s power structure does not reflect its changing face.

In the course of reporting a story earlier this year about the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in provincial jails, Maclean’s heard complaints of representational deficiencies in the province’s power structure; the magazine undertook a survey that looked at the 265 most powerful people in government, justice, business, and education. Just 17 positions were filled by non-white people—1.8 per cent by visible minorities, and 4.5 per cent by Metis or First Nations peoples. The mayors of Saskatchewan’s nine biggest cities are white. So are all but one of the chiefs of police and 18 of 19 city councillors in its two major cities, Saskatoon and Regina, the presidents of its two universities and its biggest college, its six major sports teams.

Saskatchewan has never elected a visible minority candidate to the House of Commons, or to the council chambers of Saskatoon or Regina, say academics, political staff and city clerks in Regina and Saskatoon. In the last election, the province made history when it elected Muhammad Fiaz, the first visible minority to sit in the province’s Legislative Assembly, a milestone that surprised even Fiaz, he tells Maclean’s. (Neighbouring Manitoba did this nearly four decades ago.)

Just one of the province’s 21 Crown corporations and one of the six Saskatchewan-based, publicly-traded businesses are headed by a visible minority: Rupen Pandya is president and CEO of SaskBuilds, which manages the province’s large-scale infrastructure projects, and Murad Al-Katib is president and CEO of agribusiness giant Alliance Grain Traders.

In perhaps the most glaring omission of minority voices, just two of the 101 judges in the province—where 81 per cent of those sentenced to provincial custody are Indigenous, higher than in any other province—is either First Nations or Metis.

Therein lies the rub, says Saskatchewan MLA Nicole Sarauer, formerly a lawyer with Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan. The problem isn’t just the unrepresentative power structure, it’s the vast “disconnect” between those making decisions and those most impacted by them. Without adequate representation, the concerns of Indigenous voices are more easily overlooked, which helps spur the growth of the appalling socioeconomic gap dividing Saskatchewan’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations.

Indigenous people in Saskatchewan are, for example, 33 times more likely to be incarcerated than a non-Indigenous person—higher odds than an African American in the U.S., or a black South African at the height of apartheid.

Yet calls for an inquiry into Saskatchewan’s over-incarceration of Indigenous peoples continue to fall on deaf ears, despite studies showing that Indigenous offenders in Saskatchewan are being sentenced to more than twice the jail time as their non-Indigenous counterparts. Ignored as well are calls for measures to try to stem the tide, like the 12 First Nations courts that B.C. and Ontario implemented a decade ago. (A Cree-language court operates in Saskatchewan’s north.)

In dozens of interviews with officials, academics and elected representatives, none denied a problem. “I see this as a major weakness in our community,” says Saskatoon councillor Mairin Loewen. “It’s deeply troubling to have a government that doesn’t look like the population,” she says, adding that Saskatchewan also has one of the lowest rates of female mayors and municipal councillors—just 17 per cent, according to data from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Loewen blames the “legacy of racism” for the lack of minority voices at the table. “I have all sorts of privilege allowing me to be elected and re-elected—that’s not the case for everyone. Putting yourself out there in a community where racism is a reality can be a daunting prospect.”

Critics point to three intersecting problems, starting with racism, which makes it harder for Indigenous people to break through. And the less likely they are to see themselves reflected in the top echelons of power, the harder it becomes to force their way in, says University of Saskatchewan political scientist Joe Garcea, noting an Indigenous “glass ceiling” keeps many from rising beyond a certain level in a hierarchy. Finally, Marilyn Poitras, a Harvard-educated Metis law professor at the University of Saskatchewan, believes that “the people doing the appointing are more interested in filling authority placeholders with others who look like them, think like them, and talk like them.”

Although Regina Mayor Michael Fougere concedes these figures are “quite low,” he adds, “You never force anyone to run for office. You encourage as best you can. But they choose to run.”

Indigenous people have traditionally sought power on band councils—initially because they were denied the federal right to vote until 1960. Others have noted that surging immigration rates are a relatively recent phenomenon in Saskatchewan, beginning a decade ago, spurred by the province’s then-booming economy. Because of this, Garcea believes there still isn’t a “critical mass” allowing potential visible-minority candidates to form a community base from which to launch campaigns. He thinks Saskatchewan may be at an “earlier stage of political integration of its visible minority communities,” noting it took two generations for Ukrainian-Canadian politicians, like former Saskatchewan MP and governor general Ray Hnatyshyn and former premier Roy Romanow, to break through Saskatchewan’s decades-long pattern of “electing people, almost entirely, of British descent.”


Right now, Saskatchewan’s combined visible minority and Indigenous population ranks it among the five most diverse provinces, behind Ontario (28.3 per cent), Manitoba (29.8 per cent) and Alberta (24.6 per cent), but well ahead of provinces like Quebec (12.8 per cent) and New Brunswick (5.4 per cent).

In neighbouring Manitoba, whose demographic portrait most closely mirrors Saskatchewan’s (Indigenous people in Manitoba make up 16.7 per cent of the population, and its visible minority population is 13.1 per cent), the power structure is starting to look a bit more like the population it serves. Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman is Metis. Mike Pagtakhan, the city’s deputy mayor, is of Filipino descent. Devon Clunis, the city’s outgoing police chief, is Jamaican-born.

This spring, the University of Winnipeg’s associate vice-president of Indigenous affairs Wab Kinew, one of Manitoba’s most visible university administrators, was elected to the provincial legislature. In a step backwards, Premier Brian Pallister appointed an all-white cabinet shortly after, and made headlines earlier this month by striking two minority voices from Winnipeg’s police board. But Manitoba’s Opposition NDP caucus is 50 per cent Indigenous and visible minority. And the party seems to be gearing up to run a powerful Indigenous voice against Pallister in the next election.

Three of the NDP’s potential leadership candidates are Indigenous, and they are powerhouses: Kinew, a writer and former broadcaster; tireless Port Douglas MLA Kevin Chief, a retail politician in the mould of former premier Gary Doer; and rookie MLA Nahanni Fontaine, who helped bring the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women to national attention. They’ve forged a deal, according to an NDP source: Only one will run for leadership, and will receive the backing of the NDP’s Indigenous caucus.

The gap between Saskatchewan’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations is deep and troubling.

An Indigenous child born today in Saskatchewan is 13 times more likely to be apprehended by child protection authorities than a non-Indigenous child in the province. (Fully 83 per cent of kids in care in Saskatchewan are Indigenous, a rate second only to Manitoba, where 87 per cent of children in care are Indigenous. Studies show that only a third of children in care will graduate high school.)

They will be six times more likely to be murdered than the national average. (Manitoba has the country’s highest Indigenous homicide rate. There, Indigenous people are nine times more likely to be murdered than non-Indigenous Manitobans.)

They face a 60 per cent dropout rate from high school, versus 55 per cent in Manitoba.

If they remain on reserve, they are 11 times more likely to contract HIV than a non-Indigenous person in Saskatchewan. No province has a higher on-reserve HIV rate; in fact, some Saskatchewan First Nations have HIV rates equal to African nations like Nigeria and the Central African Republic.

Social scientists and Indigenous leaders say it’s even tougher to overcome odds like these when the wider population is distrustful, unsympathetic or unaware of the reasons things look the way they do.


A June poll by Environics showed that more people in Saskatchewan than any other province blame “Aboriginal peoples themselves,” for their problems (41 per cent, versus 26 per cent nationally). Respondents in Saskatchewan were least likely to consider Indigenous culture and history “important” to the Canadian identity (44 per cent, versus 63 per cent for Atlantic Canada and 61 per cent for Ontario). And they were most likely to see the relationship between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in a “negative” light (60 per cent, versus 40 per cent in B.C.).

While roughly half of Canadians acknowledge that systemic barriers facing non-white Canadians make it harder for them to get ahead, Prairie respondents (a data set that also includes Manitobans) are least likely to accept this—just 36 per cent, according to a 2015 Environics poll.

Part of the problem is the poor job Canada is doing educating its young people about federal policies that forced Indigenous tribes onto reserves, the pass system that imprisoned them there. Many of the country’s ugliest episodes, like Canada’s largest mass execution, occurred in Saskatchewan. On Nov. 27, 1885, eight Cree men were hanged in North Battleford for their role in the Northwest Rebellion, an act intended to “convince the Red Man that the White Man governs,” according to the reasoning of prime minister John A. Macdonald. Indigenous children were pulled from classes at the local residential school and forced to witness the mass hanging, a grotesque warning not to cross the Crown.

This horrific history, from hangings to residential schools, right up to the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women, has left an enormous gulf of distrust between communities, one that will take targeted efforts to overcome.

“Growing up, I was taught to be fearful of white people, of authorities—they were the ones who took us away,” says Regina resident Darren Maxie, who was removed from his home on the White Bear First Nation at age eight, after his mother’s death, and sent to Gordon’s Residential School, a notorious institution north of the city. “I learned to always be guarded. That’s how I could protect myself, my family.

“It is their system, not ours,” he adds. “Every institution belongs to them. We are not allowed in.” The dynamic, he adds, is one of “master and slave.” This is what forces protest—the only means of power available. But “finding the courage” to do even that can be tough. “When I see white people protest in Regina, I don’t see people honk at them, or yell at them to get a job. Police don’t break it up, or intimidate protesters, asking people to show their ID. That’s what happens whenever we march, or try to advocate for ourselves: We’re confronted by hate. We’re treated like criminals, like terrorists.”

Lee Prosper grew up decades after Maxie, around the time Saskatchewan’s last residential school was shuttered, in 1995. As a child, he sometimes relied on soup kitchens and food banks, especially after his father died by suicide. He was 13. Thereafter, his family “fell apart.”

Growing up, it seemed “everyone was coming out of residential school,” including both his parents. “It felt like we were a sleeping nation. It was like we had no grip on social skills, the avenues to get ahead.”

Saskatchewan is beginning to make progress in diversifying government, however. Its provincial legislature is now 11 per cent visible minority, First Nations and Metis. A decade ago, that figure seemed stalled at three per cent. And after the last election, Premier Brad Wall added a lone Indigenous voice to cabinet: Jennifer Campeau, a member of the Yellow Quill First Nation, minister of central services and the minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Transportation Company.


Both the Regina Police Services and Saskatoon Police Services were ordered to better reflect the communities they serve—the RPS in 1995, by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, the SPS in 2003, part of the recommendations of the public inquiry into the death of Cree teen Neil Stonechild. Both have since made big strides: The RPS is now 9.7 per cent Indigenous and 5.4 per cent visible minority. And the SPS is 11.5 per cent Indigenous, and 4.8 per cent visible minority, according to figures made available to Maclean’s. Even tiny forces like Moose Jaw’s have begun targeted recruitment to diversify, says Chief Rick Bourassa, though he acknowledges efforts are still in their “infancy.”

Indigenizing the University of Saskatchewan and closing the education gap is the university’s “top priority” going forward, says president Peter Stoicheff. It is creating a new vice-provost position for Indigenous engagement, and saw Indigenous enrolment hit 11 per cent last fall. Earlier this month, Lee Ahenakew, a business leader from the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, was elected chair of the board of governors, and the university’s three previous student union presidents were all Indigenous.

The University of Regina, which saw Indigenous enrolment hit 12 per cent last fall, is in the process of renaming buildings, residences and streets using Cree, Dene and Dakota words. They’ve bumped up bursaries, scholarships and a range of supports for the Indigenous student body, president Vianne Timmons tells Maclean’s.

Saskatoon and Regina have also set out to build more diverse civic workforces: 7.7 per cent of Regina’s full-time employees, and 8.6 per cent of Saskatoon’s workforce are now Indigenous.

Private industry is also engaged. One of the Saskatoon Blades’ two directors is Metis, and the team has turned to the Saskatoon Tribal Council to help recruit hockey staff and players, according to president Steve Hogle. Last spring, the Regina Pats appointed Marty Klyne, a Metis businessman, as chief operating officer. Uranium giant Cameco, Canada’s largest industrial employer of Indigenous people, tells Maclean’s it is providing training and assistance to ensure the ascent of Indigenous employees to more senior roles.

Indeed, the province’s old power structure may crater as more and more minority police officers, miners and hockey executives scale the ranks.

Correcting the “stark” imbalance in Saskatchewan’s power structure isn’t just a numbers game, says Poitras, the legal scholar; it’s also about building more effective power structures and organizations. Decades of research—by sociologists, psychologists, economists and organizational scientists—bears this out. Studies show that racially diverse groups are more innovative. They’re better at solving complex problems. And they improve the way people think. (They might even make better business sense: Global consulting giant McKinsey & Company last year reported that companies in the top quartile for diversity were more likely to report returns above the industry median.) Sometimes, they help redress inequity.

In 2006, B.C. judge Marion Buller-Bennett, who was raised on the Mistawasis First Nation in Saskatchewan, quietly launched B.C.’s First Nations Court as a pilot project with no budget in a New Westminster provincial courthouse. The program, which recently added a fourth courtroom, in Kamloops, has helped cut recidivism rates for participating Indigenous offenders.

When minister Campeau was a Ph.D. student at the University of Saskatchewan, she was part of a vocal group of Indigenous student leaders who forced the university to focus on Indigenization and inclusion. It has since become a core U of S mandate.

When NDP justice critic Nicole Sarauer was once a newly elected female Regina Catholic School Board trustee, she pushed the board to include three nuns to its advisory council; until then, only male church authorities had been advising the board, which subsequently adopted more inclusive policies and protections for LGBT students.

Prince Albert Police Service Chief Troy Cooper says his Metis heritage has been “invaluable” in his role as a police leader in a community where half of high school students are Indigenous, giving him “deeper and personal” knowledge of the issues and struggles of Indigenous people, and the reasons some continue to distrust police.

For one thing, “trust comes easier if the community sees themselves in the members of the service,” Cooper says. “It removes the idea that the police are something imposed on them.”

It all comes back to a basic truth: Representation matters. Kids notice when people who look like them are not represented. It sends a message they are unable, that they don’t fit.

Wab Kinew says his “life was changed” the day he saw then-Democratic candidate Barack Obama speak in South Dakota in 2008. “Until that time, I was skeptical of how far an Indigenous person or member of a visible minority could go in North America,” he later wrote in the Winnipeg Free Press. He felt minority candidates would forever be relegated to “token” status. All that fell apart when he saw Obama win over a room full of skeptical tribal leaders.

That is the “remarkable” thing about role models, Kinew wrote: “The conversation changes from ‘What if?’ to ‘He or she did it; so can I.’ ”

For Lee Prosper, there was no such Obama moment. Ten years ago, when he was a teen, the birth of his son Jordan transformed him: “It felt as if suddenly, I wasn’t living for myself anymore.” He needed to support his baby, but he was being turned down for job after job, pushing him to “rock bottom.” Instead of becoming discouraged, Prosper became fixated on getting ahead. Tiny accomplishments kept “snowballing,” each one leading to the next, bigger step.

Prosper sees change all around him now, as the community recovers from the effects of residential schools, as awareness and understanding spread among Canadians about parts of history once excluded from our textbooks. For now, Prosper is intent on being a mentor for his son, the model he never had.


Saskatchewan: A special report on race and power

  1. So why Saskatchewan? The province has about 1 million people – why the focus of a national magazine on this province. Could it be because our premier is one of the most popular, not only in SK, but across Canada. Can’t have that!

    • This article has nothing to do with Brad Wall. This article points out valid concerns that are not new, sadly.

      • Actually it sounds like there is a real effort to turn things around for First Nations in Saskatchewan. Education is an important issue because if it is like Alberta, the Universities hold seats in popular programs for indigenous people but they have to get through high school. One of the major problems is substance abuse…perhaps self-medicating, leading to very bad choices and of course, very high suicide rates due to hopelessness.

  2. Primary resource economy…..primary type people

    Fly-over country.

    • Why do you write such insulting things? How are these generalizations helpful?

      • Saskawanians are as bad as Albertans

        All hat and no cattle

        • Hahaha! There are quite a few cattle as the beef industry is thriving in both provinces and all the hats have heads with fully functioning brains in them. I would have thought you would be cutting Alberta some slack now that Rachel Notley is premier but I guess you just can late go of the hate.

          • Albertans haven’t changed any….and I’m not NDP

        • Are you really as ignorant and arrogant as you put into your comments? If you can’t contribute any thing positive just don’t write any thing.

        • Perhaps it is just because Emily is naturally insulting? Perhaps that is what comes from being an expert on everything? Perhaps it is to draw attention to herself?

          But maybe then she IS an expert on First Nations?
          One thing, she can be a pain in the butt; she has a need to drop her bon mots?

    • You said you lived in Cold Lake, Alberta for several years so you must have crossed the border and visited Meadow Lake Provincial Park in northern Saskatchewan. It has nine lakes, one of which (Kimble Lake) was voted one of the top ten beaches in Canada. Saskatchewan has a lot of beautiful lakes. It is a shame you don’t write accurate descriptions about the provinces that make up our country.

      • What the hell do Sask lakes have to do with it?

        • It is a rebuttal to your ascertain that Saskatchewn is “fly over country.” It is not. It has beautiful lakes to visit…hundreds of them.

          • Canada has lots of lakes… can fly over all of them

            The point is you pass over them

  3. First off, there are hard questions that are going un-asked. Why are natives murdering each other at a rate multiple ties that of the general population? Why such high rates of violent assault within the native community? You can’t simply explain a lot of this away as “whitey’s fault.” All sorts of immigrants to Canada in the 20th century came from situations far worse than the residential schools, yet they have successfully integrated with none of the social problems inherent within our native community. Many immigrant groups faced the same racial issues that are faced by natives. Again, they have integrated successfully.
    That leaves a hard question to be asked of Canada’s native leadership, and maybe the native community itself. Why so many severe social problems within the native community? I know that many natives who have left “the rez” in the rearview mirror of their lives will tell you that the problem lies within native culture itself.
    They’ll also tell you that nobody within Canada’s Indian industry wants to listen to that.

    • Gosh…you mean if they’d all just turn white, and live exactly like you we wouldn’t have a problem?

    • A few years ago Colby Cosh wrote a very interesting article regarding Alberta reserves. His argument was that if lack of funding is the reason reserves are struggling in terms of social wellness, then the reserves in Alberta should be thriving because many were rich with oil money. However, this was not the case. In fact, on one reserve, the gang violence was so bad that children could not play outside after school. You might be able to find it in the Macleans archives.

      • There is gang violence in Toronto

        • Yes but is Macleans writing articles about how over represented those gangs in Toronto are in Canadian prisons? No. Are people claiming that we just need to give gangs in Toronto more money and they won’t feel a need to join up? No. Are people sympathizing with gang members in Toronto because they had miserable upbringings? Not likely. Is a reserve in central Alberta the size the Toronto? No.

          • Is there some reason why you think Macleans should write everything all at the same time?

  4. How many indigenous people working at Macleans?

  5. Hey, many years ago they tried to educate FN kids the old way – the same way I was brought up 85 years ago. It didn’t work, so they didn’t get past a few early grades mostly. You have to have a forest to find some trees; you don’t find them in a desert and you won’t get educated people by affirmative action. So quit crying, Nancy. It is not shocking; it is real life.

    • In English please.

      • Nancy, if you want mayors, MPs, MLAs, doctors etc you have to have educated men and women to work with. Some FN people make it; some don’t. The ones who do probably worked hard and conscientiously. I recall a female graduate of the residential school system who claimed that she never would have got anywhere without the education she received there. I guess they were not all abused or felt their sacred language attacked. The ones who don’t show any signs of success are usually the ones who did not do the necessary work or who do not have the mental equipment, the ability to learn. As in mine there was corporal punishment for misbehaviour, rewards for hard work. It has little to do with ‘racism’.

        Emily, I can’t help it if yours didn’t take.

        • White arrogance again…..Calvinism……wrong culture!

          You even have the nerve to promote residential schools.

          There are certainly native doctors and lawyers….but the majority of natives only have poor residential schools, and the dregs of teaching.

          A high school graduate on the reserves is not remotely as qualified as a high school graduate in a city… it’s hard for them to move on to university

          We are all the same species…..and everyone on earth can do math and science and history etc. Living in the back of beyond with no proper classroom or teacher or meals harm that ability.

          And my name’s not Nancy

          • FYI
            1. FN students in BC can go to schools like anyone else, graduate from High School, go to university. But if they insist on taking “native studies” only then while those subjects might heal some cultural alienation they don’t do dam all for careers in the world we live in, even if for fishing on the South Sask.
            2. Some students who graduated from residential schools, went on to High Schools and from there to university (some did well. Some became national chiefs.

            3. I wasn’t addressing you; I was addressing Nancy; last time I looked your name was Emily.

          • Sorry Gage…none of that is true.

            You are simply being racist.

        • Blacktop….they can go to school anywhere in Canada….as long as they live near one!

          And nobody goes through school on just one subject. Be serious

          Some students who went to residential school….died

          • My gawd you are arrogant…you even answer for the author of the article…
            “My name isn’t Nancy”. The FN don’t have to have as good of a high school education because the universities hold spots for them in the programs. They don’t have to be competitive. They get in just by being who they are. Further, when they are arrested for a crime, there is a Gladue Report done and every effort is made to have them do restitution through the reservation rather than in the Canadian prison system. We have solvent abuse programs just for First Nations people. There were boys at Mount Cashel in Newfoundland who were treated despicably and they weren’t the only ones. The Catholic Church has left a long legacy, much of it in Newfoundland but plenty in other places like Boston, etc. You don’t think some of them died? You don’t think some of them are substance abusers? Why aren’t we holding a spot in university for their children or ensuring they are well represented in public office?

          • Sorry Gage…none of that is true.

            You are simply being racist.

          • Do some research, Em. The U of A has spots in programs just for Indigenous students. Therefore, they are only competing against one another. One of those programs is dental hygiene, a very competitive, popular program. Look up what a Gladue report is. I work in the judicial system. Google solvent abuse programs for native young people…..or don’t. It doesn’t matter. Others will and they will know that what I am saying isn’t untrue but that you can’t stand to be bothered to learn any real truths.

  6. This article is racist nonsense. It assumes that group identity trumps all. That somehow deliberately deciding to hire a native isn’t as racist as deliberately deciding not to. That life is a contest between your race and the others and quotas can bring you victory.

    We should be past this. The truth is that if you want to get ahead on your own- and lack some incredible artists, athletic or entrepreneurial talent- then education is the key. Education that results in a qualification that’s in demand- IT, health care, engineering, or the sciences. Not soft social sciences.

    Improving education doesn’t require more money. It only requires parents who seriously care if their kids do well or not. That’s a common mindset on reserves and that’s the problem not racism or a system stacked against natives.

  7. Dear Maclean’s, Readers and Canadians:

    “Race,” is a human invention created and perpetuated by society. By using the word “race,” you are supporting a tool of oppression. Please join me in my struggle to remove the word “race” from our vernacular. If you must label or describe a person, use the word “phenotype”, not race. Phenotype refers to a person’s observable physical appearance.

    Phenotype: fact, truth, observable physical traits, characteristics or outward appearance, skin colour, hue, pigment, shape of nose, shape of lips, height, hair texture and colour, facial details, etc.

    Race (“White, Black, Hispanic, Brown, etc.): exclusionary, arbitrary, legitimizes apartheid, lie, false, non-existent, fiction, illusion, erroneous, unscientific, social construct, political construct, oppressive, divisive, inaccurate, biased, justifies slavery, upholds discrimination, legitimizes segregation, validates supremacy, reinforces stereotypes, human invention, eugenic fantasy, myth, false reality, arbitrary, upholds the bastion of privilege, cancer, mental illness, obsessive-compulsive disorder, harmful, denies and contradicts equality, science fiction, manmade, delusion, medieval, detriment, religion in United States, deliberate ignorance, hypocrisy, injustice, demeaning, promotes inferiority and superiority, bigotry

    1.Check out the human genome project and genetic research which have scientifically proven that races do not exist. Human DNA is 99% the same.

    2. Check out “Race – The Power of an Illusion” at

    “It would seem better to define everyone as simply human beings, not with non-scientific or socially-constructed labels of superiority and inferiority, and accord them rights, duties and freedoms based solely upon their existence, rather than upon their state of pigmentation, genetic makeup, or presumed continental origin of their ancestors.” (Author Unknown)

    • Hmm; human DNA is 99% the same What a difference that 1% can make to some people.

      • As a matter of memory, I believe it is only 2 or 3% difference between humans and chimps so I guess a percentage point here and there can make a difference.

  8. Kindly do not turn this article into your usual white supremacy ranting, folks

    Humans are all the same species…..the only difference between them is culture

    • That is just our Emily, looking for something to put down.

    • Is THAT who he’s talking about?

      Definitely not me!

  9. I have lived in Saskatchewan my entire life – this article is truthful, timely and long overdue.

    As a white woman growing up in the 70s and 80s, I can tell you that there was next to nothing on Indigenous history and culture taught in school – nothing about residential schools, the Indian Act or anything else beyond the Riel Rebellion (where the white guys were always the good guys).

    I live in a small community and the everyday expressions of racism are sickening. My husband, who is Metis, works for a Rural Municipality where he constantly has to remind his co-workers that he doesn’t appreciate their jokes, complaints and attitudes about Indigenous people. It has gotten worse since the last Federal election – its like these small minded bigots were taken by surprise to find that the most of the country doesn’t share their racism and so they dug down even deeper than before to register their disdain for Indigenous people. He’s been told that it must be the “white part” of his DNA that makes him a reliable, hardworking employee. The last time I stepped foot in a Walmart was two years ago when a checkout clerk made a disparaging remark about the previous customer after she had collected her shopping and left – the clerk’s complaint was that this Indigenous person didn’t have to pay taxes on her purchases. She said it to me with all the brazen confidence that I would understand and feel the same way that she did. This is the everyday racism that infests our society. I’ve had people make jokes about scalping when I’ve told them I was going to a Pow Wow. So funny. So sickening.

    We are a backwater. People are constantly surprised and ready to argue with me when I tell them that I witnessed less overt racism in my travels through Mississippi and Louisiana and other parts of the deep South. Saskabama was what I used to call my province untiI I realised what an insult that was to the people of Alabama.

    • Hang in there Swan….and husband…..things WILL get better in Saskabama as soon as people travel a bit and start to globalize. The backwaters of this country are disappearing.

      • How will things get better in the “back waters” of the country? The people that are “all hat and no cattle” that come from ‘fly over” provinces will meet enlightened people like you Emily who will greet them with open arms once you learn they are from “Saskbama” and then they will suddenly open their eyes to the evils of bigotry….. No, they’ll meet you in the centre of universe and similar to what occurs in prison, they’ll take a lesson from an expert bigot and become champion bigots because you hate some of your countrymen based on nothing more than where they live. You are the poster child for bigotry on this site. Congratulations, you’ve been an inspiration to everyone and meanwhile you have had the audacity to lecture others about their bigoted behaviour. You are not only a bigot but you have less insight than anyone on this blog. Why don’t you mosey on over to Martin Pacquin article on how Quebec is belching out emissions with their govt. subsidized cement factory? I didn’t think so? You don’t hate Quebeckers so it doesn’t meet your agenda to comment.

        • Go play in traffic

          • No, I think I’ll have a drink and smoke a doobie so you can tell me to sober up. Why not?

  10. Hmmm. No mention of the ’60’s scoop, when many FN children were removed from their homes and placed in foster homes as far away as Toronto. BTW, this was 1960’s, not 1860’s.

    • Then we wonder why we have such a ‘native problem’

  11. Pretty good spread for quota system advocates’ reference. The Indigenous thumbnails are highlighted in yellow for the convenience of whites who might not recognize them. The capitalization of common adjectives such as Indigenous, Native, and White alerts the reader to the unincorporated parties of the identity groups. Yeah, I’m aware the history is ugly. But is this exercise in systemic racism theory really helping the people it says it wants to help? I can’t speak for Canada, but in the USA, minority politicians have a poor track record at garnering actual socioeconomic gains for minorities.

  12. When ‘Emily attacks’ begin you know the racists have run out of things to say.

    They’ll say them all over after the next article though

    They learned this stuff at 4 and will believe it for life.

  13. While you’re at it Nancy MacDonald, how about an exposé on the horrendous abuse of prescription meds by fn’s, and those enabling medical professionals fuelling this epidemic?

    • The CBC did an expose on solvent abuse traffickers in Winnipeg. It is a big problem because it isn’t illegal, it is cheap and it causes grave, irreversible damage to the brain with continued abuse and it is easy to come by as gasoline is often one of the products used. It is also used by the very young.

      • We’re all well aware of the solvent abuse situation. I’m speaking of the chronic overprescription and usage of narcotic medications by fn’s, and the enabling medical establishment fuelling this epidemic.

  14. Nancy, I am looking forward to your information on how many first nation’s people Mr. Trudeau has promoted into top civil service jobs. I went to school with a girl from a reserve in Calgary. She had been one of the first female First Nations RCMP officers. She received her BA and got a very important job in the federal government. I would also be interested to know how many are working in important positions in the world of journalism. Is your own industry actively promoting the advancement of our indigenous people?

    • Your claim of “interest” is ridiculously transparent. Like any sly and sleazy politician (lawyer), you select questions to which you know the answer, and the answer will tend to support the “point” that you pretend not to have.

      No, Trudeau has not gone far enough. But he is already several light years ahead of the knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing characters that previously occupied cabinet offices. Trudeau is making forward progress – Harper marched backwards, in a pathetic version of Michael Jackson’s “Moon Walk”.

      • Excuse me? Are you suggesting I am a sleazy politician or a lawyer? Frankly, I know things because I have a First Nations brother-in-law and a niece and nephew, all three with treaty cards. I also have a good friend who is Metis. My sister-in-law’s grandmother was First Nations. You see what you want to see. I am from the Peace River area of Alberta. There are a large number of indigenous people there. I don’t have to pretend that Trudeau isn’t keeping all his promises. When there was an emergency debate in the HOC on the sucides in Attawapiskat, he skipped it and went out for dinner and to a book signing. They actually had to have a sit in at federal offices to get his attention. I don’t care what you say about Harper. Trudeau is just Harper lite. Every time he pulls a boner, he says “oops I was acting like the previous government.” Meanwhile the 30 billion is going where? Is it keeping people with FAS out of prison? Not according to Nancy.

  15. Before it gets lost in the trash…..this is a well-researched, well written article. Good job.

  16. cv

  17. nd for First Nations in Saskatchewan. Education is an important issue because if it is like Alberta, the Universities hold seats in popular programs for indigenous people but they have to get through high school. One of the major problems is substance abuse…perhaps

  18. Could find anyone sober enough to show up for the job.