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November 20, 2017
August 25, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Friday: August 25, 2017

Just some casual racism

Written by Jeff Samsonow

Edmonton’s CFL football team won’t be changing its name. This is back in the news because Inuk singer Tanya Tagaq is getting attention for her calls for the team to change its name (she’s been doing so for years). And, it follows on years of other requests from Inuit communities, including Edmonton’s, to change the name from something that is no longer an acceptable word to use when talking of Canada’s northern Indigenous populations. Edmonton is home to the largest population of Inuit peoples in southern Canada.

Obviously, these are two different perspectives.

Read that again. That’s the team president and CEO.

If we want to talk about perspectives on the issue, let’s be clear. One perspective is Inuit people asking the team to stop using a name they find derogatory and disrespectful and – in my words – casual racism. It’s also a call to action from the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The other perspective would be ignoring those requests due to white fragility. I get that there’s a fear about being perceived as racist for admitting the team name should change. If you wouldn’t call someone an “eskimo” to their face, it shouldn’t be the name of your favourite sports team. This has to be confronted and dealt with.

The team may be doing great on the field, but it’s surely setting itself up for a big future loss when more people turn their attention to our community-owned club’s use of Indigenous people as mascots. And, I don’t doubt that will happen. This is a bad look for a city of reconciliation.


The next steps in Edmonton, and Alberta’s contentious carding issue have been announced by the provincial government. Around 100 community groups and organizations will be surveyed by the Alberta government as it tries to come up with new rules for the practice.

Carding is when police stop someone and ask them for ID and other personal information. The person hasn’t done anything wrong, they aren’t connected to any crime, it’s just police collecting information. Those details are then stored in police databases, and possibly shared with other law enforcement agencies, likely forever.

Alberta would be the second province to look at changing or overhauling the practice of carding, after Ontario brought in new rules to try and deal with what has been found to be racial profiling. In Edmonton, Indigenous and Black people were many more times more likely to be stopped by police.

To be blunt it’s not about community policing, it’s about surveillance.”

The Edmonton Police Commission is also undertaking a review of the practice. There have been calls to scrap the whole program, to keep police from logging personal details of people who aren’t connected to any crime, so if the practice continues, the fight won’t be over. (It continues in Ontario.)

Stats showing the racially-skewed police actions. image: Progress Alberta and BLM Edmonton

Also, Edmonton newsrooms including quotes and reactions from police about how collecting ID and personal information from innocent people is a “critical component” of policing should really ask for some proof of how critical. I think we counted about 3 or 4 anecdotal stories out of 20,000+ annual street checks. Not looking too critical, if you ask me.

We’ve been tracking the carding story since two different reviews of police data found the racial profiling. >>>>>

One item that keeps coming up in the carding discussion is that of “nobody complaining to police” about being stopped and having their personal information collected. That’s why this new self-advocacy course for newcomers is excellent. The more people that know their rights, especially from racialized communities, the less likely anyone is to take advantage of them or act illegally or unethically.


Around the city

Edmonton’s development of The Quarters, the neighbourhood to the east of our downtown, continues to move at a snail’s pace. I might go so far as to call it a failure, but we should give it some time to prove that right (or wrong). One of the major private investors is wondering what happened to the promise of a revitalized neighbourhood, although you need only look a few blocks east at the all public money and energy spent around the arena to get some of the answer.

The Touch the Water project isn’t happening now, and there’s doubt all the money will be pulled together again to make it happen down in the river valley. What happened to stall the project to the point that its budget will be spent elsewhere will be up for the city’s auditor to determine.

After announcing Alberta’s first dental fee guide in a generation, dentists are being sent back to their calculators to get the prices down even further. The health minister wasn’t pleased with a mere three percent reduction in Canada’s most expensive dental fees.

We mentioned the Truth and Reconciliation Commission up in that sports story 👆🏽 and there’s an opinion article in the Journal calling on corporations to step into their role.

I love this! The Men’s Shed lets guys share their feelings. And build sheds. But I really like that whole feelings bit. If you’re looking for a place to try sharing your own emotions, or know someone this might be a good fit for, check it out in the Beacon Heights neighbourhood on Wednesday nights.


Public engagement

Just because it’s the weekend doesn’t mean you can’t get out there and engage with your city, and government. There are a few different downtown projects looking for involvement and feedback this Saturday.

There’s a big downtown bike party to celebrate the entire new bike network being open and usable, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. There are bike rentals, lots of activity and community stations around the bike lanes and you can give City of Edmonton folks your thoughts on the grid.

Since you’ll be downtown on your bike, why not head over to Jasper Avenue to check out some of the installations between 109 and 115 Streets as the City tries to figure out how it might make our main street more walkable and enjoyable (especially for the thousands of people who live downtown and in Oliver). This one is 2 – 7 p.m. And, if you’re checking out west Jasper’s potential future, drop in on the open house about new towers proposed for Jasper Avenue at 115 Street. It’s running 1 – 3 p.m.

Finally on Saturday, make your way back from Jasper to the Alberta Legislature for End Racism Canada: A Response to Charlottesville to stand and stake your place in Edmonton to fight hate. This event starts at 7 p.m.

This article was updated Friday, August 25, 2017

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